Levering—Patricia Webb Levering, 73, on August 24, 2019, in Cornelius, N.C., after a 16-month struggle with lung cancer. Patty was born on July 14, 1946, in Mount Airy, N.C., to Irene and Locke Webb, growing up a Baptist. She began dating Ralph Levering in high school, and they began a rich and loving marriage in 1967. In 1968 she graduated from Duke University with a degree in religion, later earning a master’s in library science from Rutgers University and one in ministry from Earlham School of Religion. In the mid-1970s she and her family began attending Quaker meeting regularly. A founding member in 1989 of her beloved Davidson (N.C.) Meeting, she served as meeting clerk and clerk and member of many committees. Her careful listening leadership built unity, contributing to the meeting’s flourishing, and she lectured and led workshops at national and regional Quaker gatherings.
She worked as a reference librarian in 1969–72 in inner-city Trenton, N.J., and Washington, D.C.; as a writer and Quaker administrator in 1976–89; as assistant director of Davidson College’s Love of Learning for African American high school students in 1989–91; as a chaplain in an oncology practice in Charlotte, N.C., in 1992–2002; and as a teacher in School of the Spirit Ministry in 2006–14, always exhibiting intentional, concrete concern for equality and social justice for African Americans and modeling her life, friendships, and ministry after Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of Beloved Community. Leading interracial Bible studies in Davidson in the 1990s and again from 2013 until her death, for about 20 years, typically with Protestant clergy, she gave free monthly counseling sessions that often continued for years. In the early 2000s, she counseled at the Davidson Clergy Center. She started and led a contemplative prayer group in 2013 that still meets at Davidson Meetinghouse.
She published several articles, two books: Disciples for Discipleship (1990) and Listening for the Voice of Truth (2009), and roughly 50 blog posts in 2016–17 at Faith Matters, pattylevering.wordpress.com. Plans are to publish her shorter writings and talks as Thirsting for Life (for information, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Never mentioning her accomplishments, she started each day quietly praying and reading the Bible, regarding Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 40: 28–31, Micah 6:8, and Matthew 22: 36–40 as beacons for her life. She greeted that of God in every person and offered help without providing answers. Hundreds of people—Ralph, other relatives, friends, students, cancer patients and their loved ones, and people unknown until they approached her—benefited from loving, empathetic conversations with her, gaining insights into dealing with their problems as she listened carefully, asked a question, listened again, repeating these steps until she found understanding that verified what the person was saying.
An avid walker, hiker, birdwatcher, knitter, and maker of innovative main dishes and lattice-crust pies, she enjoyed visiting family and friends, crossword puzzles, opera, classical music, and high-quality books and movies. Her profound love of God, the Bible, and the best in the Christian tradition; her unwavering love of family; her quiet, nonjudgmental influence on the lives of relatives and friends; her love and respect for all people as equal children of God, regardless of social status, ethnicity, or intellect; and her countless hours of active listening one-on-one may be her greatest legacies. During her illness several friends said she was like a sister to them.
Patty is survived by her husband, Ralph Levering; two children, Matthew Levering (Joy) and Brooks Levering (Heather Viola); eight grandchildren; a sister, Carolyn Powers (Dan); 15 first cousins and their children and grandchildren; and three sisters- and one brother-in-law and their children and grandchildren, who called her “Aunt Patty.”