Caroline Elizabeth DePrez
March 25, 1921 – December 1, 2018
Caroline Elizabeth (Steed) DePrez, our beloved "Bee," passed away peacefully on December 1, 2018, at the age of 97, surrounded by family and friends in Ft. Collins, Colorado.
Bee would often remark on how lucky she had been to live such a blessed life.
She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 1921, and grew up in Salem, Oregon, primarily residing at the Oregon School for the Deaf, where her father, J Lyman Steed, was the superintendent and her mother, Eleanor, was a teacher. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Sociology with Phi Beta Kappa honors and was a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, in which she remained a dedicated “sister” for over 77 years. Bee received her Master of Education degree at Syracuse University in New York, and, during World War II, served as a personnel officer in the U. S. Coast Guard Women's Reserve. On Veterans Day holidays, she stood with pride when Coast Guard veterans were honored.
After the war, Bee served as a vocational counselor for the Veterans Administration at the University of California in Berkeley and at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. That was where she met and married the love of her life, Navy Lieutenant Richard J. “Dick” DePrez. Married for 51 years, Bee raised their five children at naval bases in the United States and overseas. She devoted herself to the role of Navy wife, managing home and children while Dick’s units were deployed at sea and supporting other unit spouses who shared the challenges of Navy life. She chronicled her Navy experiences in a series of humorous poems to Navy wives which were published in military outlets under the title: “Dear Sue: Letters from Uncle Neptune.”
In 1973, Dick DePrez retired as a U. S. Navy captain, and the couple made their final move to their treasured home in the hills above Mission Bay in San Diego, California. Over the next several years, their children attended four different West Coast universities.
Having both experienced a transition from military to civilian life and understanding the challenges faced by veterans trying to explain their military service to civilian employers, Bee and Dick pioneered the specialty of assisting transitioning veterans by conceiving, co-authoring, and publishing the “Resume and Job-Hunting Guide for Present and Future Veterans,” a career-change guide and workbook for all branches and ranks of military veterans. Published in 1984, copies can still be found on Amazon.
Meanwhile, Bee was active in several service organizations; she was a volunteer coordinator for the San Diego County Jail Releasee Aid Program and a community education speaker for the Children's Home Society. She sang in the La Jolla Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, a music and spiritual community that she joyously embraced for over 30 years and to which she contributed as Choir Historian and Poet. Following her husband’s death in 2000, Bee relocated to the Wesley Palms retirement community, where she was an active member and newsletter contributor.
A life-long writer of verse, Bee authored poetic portraits of family, friends, and community activities -- all written with a touch of humor. She will be remembered for the many delightful poems, limericks, and rhymes that she penned for all to enjoy.
Among family and friends, Bee was known for her cheerful, optimistic, attentive, and giving nature. She greeted everyone she knew with a signature three note melody of welcome. She loved being a Navy wife with its complimentary roles of hostess and ambassador for the Navy alongside her husband. She loved being a mother and dedicated herself to being a cheerleader, champion, and anchor of security for her children and grandchildren. Words cannot be express how her caring presence will be missed.
Bee is survived by her sons Gregory, David, and Jeffrey; her daughters Michele and Hilary; and her 11 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. She will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery beside her beloved husband. Donations in her memory can be made to the La Jolla Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, La Jolla, California.
When asked how she’d like to be remembered, she offered this verse: "There once was a lady named Bee - Who often said, “Don't cry for me; - ‘Twas a wonderful life - As mother and wife - With a few loyal friends, as you see.”