Beatrice Louise Brophey, 95, formerly of Ely, MN dies

Beatrice Louise Brophey, 95, formerly of Ely, MN died on March 5, 2018 in Columbia, Missouri. One of the two “B’s Wilderness Paddler’s” in Ely from 1979 until 2012, she is survived by her business partner and best friend of 39 years, Barbara Anderson.
Bea was born August 13, 1922 to M. Frank and Aletha (Mullin) Spencer in New York Mills, N.Y. She attended Cony High School in Augusta, Maine and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1947 from the Baptist Missionary Training School in Chicago, which later merged with the Chicago campus of the Colgate Rochester Crozer School of Divinity. Following graduation, Bea ministered in the field of Christian Education for 10 years with a focus on camp and church school experiences for children and youth. From those seeds her love of nature, adventure, camping and canoeing grew deep roots that continued to flourish and thrive for the rest of her life.
Bea married Earl Brophey in 1956. He proceeded her in an unexpected death following 16 years of marriage. If you knew Bea Brophey, then you know that this event was devastating but it also kindled her renewal to live every day of her life to the fullest. She answered the siren call of Minnesota’s northern lakes and rivers. She moved her life to Ely and her beloved waters of the BWCAW. Bea was aptly named. She got “busy” melding her gift of leadership with a pinch or two of bossiness and merged her love of people and the endless possibilities she saw in the Quetico-Superior region. Bea’s ministry to people took on a new form. When sharing the pristine wilderness and all of its mystery and beauty with others, she shared the face of God. As The B’s Wilderness Paddler’s, Bea and Barb not only guided people into and safely back out of the depths of the Boundary Waters, they taught their guests reverence for the land, for creatures big and small, and a respect for the elements of weather, water, sun and storms. They sang grace before meals and sprinkled their trip-treks with poems, prayers and a unique spirituality that let you know that you were about to do something amazing.
Bea’s love of Ely was reflected by her service on many community boards and committees. She served on the Board of Directors of the Dorothy Molter Museum and was instrumental in the early development of Root Beer sales for sustainable fund-raising. She was a member of the originating board for the program now known as Northwoods Partners; established to provide services to enhance the quality of life for people who through age, illness or disability needed the extra assistance and care of community volunteers to enhance quality of life. Bea served as President of the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital Auxiliary and served six years on the Advisory Board to the Vermilion Community College. The Ely United Methodist Church was her faith family and place of worship. There were many noble pursuits that Bea channeled energy and love to in Ely. The North will be her final resting place when her ashes come home for burial later this spring.
Bea is survived by her beloved family including niece, Judith Spencer (Richard King) of Iowa, nephews, Bradley (Connie) Spencer of California, David (Lori) Spencer of Minnesota and Steven (Janet) Spencer of Lima, Peru, great niece Allison, great nephews Scott (Lindsey), Lucas and Steven and great-great niece, Haley, daughter of Scott and Lindsey. She is also survived by and known as “Aunt Bea” to the daughters of Barb Anderson; Donna (Ken) Ostercamp of Missouri and Betty (Steven) Davis of Nebraska and their four sons Daniel and Gary of Missouri and Aaron (Sarah) and Kyle of Nebraska. Having no children of her own, Bea has left an indelible footprint on all of our hearts; this from the woman who counseled “Leave no trace”. She leaves a beautiful legacy.
With the hope that many more hearts and minds will experience the mysteries and beauty of the BWCAW the family requests that memorials be made to the Dorothy Molter Foundation, P.O. Box 391, Ely, MN 55731.