Witness to University’s Founding Dies

 Bebe Warren portrait
Bebe Warren

Bebe Warren, an educator and wife of Palm Beach Atlantic University’s founding chairman Dr. Donald Warren, died Saturday, May 5, 2018. She was 90.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 10 in the DeSantis Family Chapel, 300 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach followed by a reception in the Lassiter Rotunda and Yeager Patio in the Warren Library, 300 Pembroke Place. A private burial is planned.

Dozens of aspiring educators have been able to attend the University through a scholarship fund established in Mrs. Warren’s name. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Palm Beach Atlantic University and designated to the Bebe Warren Scholarship Fund. Mail checks to PBA, 901 South Flagler Drive, P.O. Box 24708, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4708 or make a gift on line, Call (561) 803-2011 for more information.

Serving with her husband during the school’s early years, Mrs. Warren wasn’t afraid roll up her sleeves and work alongside a team of volunteers to paint and refurbish the dormitories. She later helped to improve the aesthetics of the small but growing college as the head of its decorating committee.

 “Praise the Lord for His humble servant, Bebe Warren,” President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. said at hearing of her passing. “The University community celebrates her amazing faithfulness and commitment to the transformational work of Christ-first higher education at Palm Beach Atlantic University. As we end the University’s 49th year and congratulate 550 graduates, we give thanks for Bebe Warren’s grace, sweetness and ever present quest for excellence. May we continue to meet her high standards in Christian service.”

Mrs. Warren was born on June 30, 1927, in Greenville, S.C. She grew up in Anderson, S.C., and graduated from Hanna High School in Anderson in 1944.

She went on to attend Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C. During her college years, she served as president of her junior and senior classes and was included in Who’s Who in American Colleges. She graduated from Converse College in 1948, and she later attended Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va.

She taught elementary school in Anderson, Winston-Salem, N.C. and Durham, N.C., before leading a preschool teaching lab at Duke University in the mid-1950s. Her volunteer activities during that time included serving as a Girl Scout leader and working with the Junior League in Anderson.

Mrs. Warren met her future husband while Dr. Warren was enrolled in medical school at Duke. They were married in 1956, and shortly thereafter they moved to West Palm Beach.

Dr. Warren quickly built a stellar cardiology practice that eventually included some of the wealthiest and most influential men and women in the United States. Some of them later became benefactors of PBA.

In his book “Miracles and Wonders: A Chronicle of Palm Beach Atlantic University,” Dr. Warren, who died in 2014, wrote: “When we married, she became my greatest friend and ally, lending large amounts of charm, graciousness and support to any situation, offsetting my somewhat doctorly directness. It has been a happy partnership for more than 50 years.”

The Warrens joined First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, where Mrs. Warren was instrumental in starting the First Baptist Day School in 1964. She served as chairman of the Day School for six years, and she also taught Sunday School at the church for 30 years, teaching an age range that spanned from preschool children through married adults.

Mrs. Warren has said that she considers her work with the church to be the most significant. Her other involvements included serving as chair of the Long-Range Planning Committee at the church for six years and serving on three Pulpit Search Committees for First Baptist. She also was the Girls Acteen leader for nine years.

In 1966, Mrs. Warren served on the PTA at Northboro Elementary School and co-chaired a committee to raise money to install air conditioning in the building. Other organizations for which Mrs. Warren has volunteered include the Norton Museum of Art, the Junior League and Good Samaritan Medical Center.

In 1968, Dr. Warren and First Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Jess Moody successfully established a Christian college in West Palm Beach to counterbalance America’s shifting moral climate. Dr. Warren became the founding chairman of the board of trustees for Palm Beach Atlantic College, as it was then known.

Mrs. Warren was the self-described “straw boss” for a work crew that cleaned and refurbished the residence halls each summer. She has said that she favored bright, tropical paint colors for the women’s rooms to make them more appealing.

Mrs. Warren served as chair of PBA’s annual Women of Distinction luncheon, honoring women who have made significant contributions to the community, from 1991 to 2006, and she was longtime chair of the University’s Decorating Committee. She is the namesake of PBA’s Bebe Warren Scholarship Fund, established in 1999 to benefit outstanding education students.

The University’s Warren Library, dedicated on Jan. 26, 2007, is named after Dr. and Mrs. Warren.

“One of my greatest joys came from helping our students enjoy a better experience at PBA, whether it was providing them with a clean dorm room, a refurbished student center, a home-cooked meal, a little good advice or a much-needed hug,” Mrs. Warren wrote in the book “Miracles and Wonders.”

“Seeing our students flourish more than made the hard work worthwhile.”

The Warrens have three adult daughters (Leigh, Julie, and Amy) and eight grandchildren.