Durango, Colorado - Bernadette (Bee) Attwood (nee Tourville, previous married name Chisholm), a long-time resident of Durango, died peacefully Friday August 31st in her home.
Born in 1937 in San Diego, California, Bee quickly adopted the volunteer spirit and a love of culture, books, food and travel from her parents George and Bertha Tourville - a naval officer and college-educated teacher. She and her younger sister, Gabrielle, lived the life of Navy children, growing up all over the country and attending schools in Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, California, Hawaii, and Washington. While an undergrad, she traveled to Europe, raising the money for the trip working the housewares section of a local department store. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in History.
With an eye on adventure, she took her first job out of college for the Central Intelligence Agency. She was assigned to the American Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1961, she married Cuban-born Albert Chisholm, then an executive of Honeywell. In an effort to be a proper hostess and further her love of food she took cooking lessons - from Mussolini’s previous chef! She was always known to throw an amazing dinner party. Not only was the food divine, she had a natural talent for conversation and story telling that made even a short visit lively. They had 2 children (Cecile and Albert Jr. (Tito)) before moving to Sao Paolo, Brasil. There, youngest son Richard was born.
During her 9-year residency of Sao Paolo, she volunteered extensively, and was a major organizer for the annual fund-raiser, "Art Show", highlighting local artists and raising money for the School of Mary Immaculate. The family returned to Caracas for 2 years before moving to the states.
She returned to school, earning a Master’s degree in Library Science from USC and Cecile and Tito went to university at UC San Diego. She and Albert soon divorced, and she started working in the Aerospace industry in Los Angeles, where she met her second husband, James (Jim) Attwood. They dated for a while and then Bee decided to move to the DC area to be closer to her aging parents and provide a better education for Richard. Richard went off to university and after several years of long-distance dating Jim and Bee reunited, married, and continued living in the LA area and working in Aerospace. They fell in love with Durango Colorado while on a visit.
In the early 1990s, Bee was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease and subsequently went into kidney failure. She had to have a few rounds of Dialysis, but it was soon discovered that her youngest son Richard did not have the disease and was a good match for kidney donation. He offered one of his kidneys to her without hesitation, and his beautiful gift of life gave her 21 more years of good health.
They retired in the mid-1990s and moved to Durango where they built their dream home. They “failed” retirement and both worked at the Bar-D chuckwagon supper and cowboy music show, and she worked for Music in the Mountains - a classical music concert series in Purgatory, Colorado. Even after a second successful attempt at retirement, she continued to volunteer significant time at the Democratic club and at Volunteers of America. She played Bridge weekly at the Durango Senior Center, and enjoyed her ‘Tuesday Lit Club’, often finishing a book in 3 or 4 hours. She continued to have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and interest in people’s personal stories. Bee continued her love of opera and often attended the Met Opera simulcast at the local movie theater.
The details of her life could never describe the reach and impact she had on the world around her. She made friends everywhere she went. Young and old were her friend, and she continued to host dinners and visits, sharing her quick wit and kind interest with everyone who knew her. She welcomed people to the area, often with an invitation for dinner or a jar of preserves. She continued to travel all over the world and was genuinely interested in people, cultures, art, music and food. She had an extensive knowledge of pretty much anything and could blow through an episode of Jeopardy! without breaking a sweat. She was not overtly demonstrative, but her children always knew they were loved unconditionally, and all three continued to have a close relationship with her throughout the years and long distances.
Bee leaves her devoted husband Jim and his children and grandchildren, and her children and their families - Cecile and Grace of Austin, TX, Albert Jr (Tito) and Barbara of Philadelphia, PA, and their daughters Anna and Lilly, Richard and Lois of Los Angeles, CA and their sons Nate and Alex. She also leaves sister Gabrielle and her husband Jefferson of Washington DC, and her nieces Corinna and Lydia and their families. Friends from all over the world will miss her grace and wit. We will all miss her laugh.
Donations in her name should be made to the Southwest Chapter of the Volunteers of America, Colorado. https://www.voacolorado.org/gethelp-southernco-southwestsafehouse. Bee would say if you can’t donate money, donate your time.