Beverly Hill Lomax
Beverly Hill Lomax came upon those lines in a classroom at Immaculata in 1956, and they have lived within her ever since. “I was roaming the halls one day and just happened to wander into the music room and that was on the board. I wrote it down then and I have never forgotten it.”
Lomax has never forgotten the time she spent at Immaculata either, where she studied elementary education and minored in French. “I went to public schools growing up and I really wanted to attend an all-girls Catholic college, so I applied to Immaculata. I remember Sister Maria Lucy in particular. Because of her, I fell in love with French. She made it come alive for me.”
The pastoral campus left a lifelong impression on Lomax, as well. “Coming from the city of Philadelphia to such a rural setting was just wonderful. I loved the grotto and Villa Maria Hall, where my dorm was. I loved the whole atmosphere. There was such peace, beauty and order. Looking back, I can appreciate the work and sacrifice that went into making it such a special place. I am so grateful to have been there.”
Gratitude is a guiding principle for Lomax, who strives to live “awake and aware,” fully engaged in the present. “The older I get, the more mindful I have to stay.” One of the ways Lomax attends to the moment and expresses her grace-filled spirit is through poetry, an art form that has become an integral part of her life. She has studied with Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate and peace activist, Sonia Sanchez, and writes verses in the ancient Japanese style of haiku. Lomax’s work is featured in a mural painted on a church building at the corner of Broad and Christian streets, and she has plans to put together a book of her poetry with Sanchez’s help. “Every evening I write haiku,” said Lomax, whose creative work of head, hands and heart spans the gamut from quilting heirloom-quality pieces to cooking—a daily task she undertakes with “care and purpose”; from lovingly tending a garden to nurturing her grandchildren with patience, passion and integrity.
She and her husband, retired physician, philanthropist and entrepreneur Dr. Walter P. Lomax, Jr., raised six children, three boys and three girls, and they now have 14 grandchildren. “It was challenging at times having five children in seven years,” said Lomax, who grew up with just one sibling, a brother, Bennett. “But today my children are my best friends. I’m not impressed by titles, but they are all good people, just great human beings.”
Lomax believes that a vital part of their character development is rooted in the values they absorbed as youngsters through the family’s practice of growing some of their own food, the humble labors associated with sowing, cultivating and reaping a harvest having the power to nourish both body and soul.
“When they were little, they all had to work in our garden,” said Lomax. “Each one had to weed a row and pick a row. I think that experience, getting their hands into the dirt, had something to do with who they grew into. It was a chore for them then. It was work and they didn’t always enjoy it, but they all came back to it. They came back to the earth, which is wonderful.”
Today, the Lomax children are all creative professionals, each involved in some facet of The Lomax Companies, a private equity investment firm. The oldest daughter, Laura Elizabeth, is developing a line of environmentally-friendly cleaning products. Walter Thomas is chief financial officer of The Lomax Companies. Charles David is a property developer currently involved in the creation of a comprehensive community to revitalize a depressed area of Philadelphia. Mary Claire is in-house counsel for the family business and head of The Lomax Family Foundation. Sara Muriel is president and general manager of WURD-AM radio, a station aimed at educating and enriching the African American community, and Bennett Perry is CEO of the entire Lomax Companies enterprise. “Bennett is the youngest,” said Lomax, “but everyone agreed he would be the best person for that position because of his in-depth understanding of business.”
All of the Lomax children live close by, three of them actually residing next door to the Bucks County property the family has called home since 1968. “It was originally owned by Pearl S. Buck,” said Lomax. “She was a lovely woman and we were invited to her 80th birthday celebration. My boys and her grandchildren used to play basketball together, and they were even allowed in her library where she had her writing desk. They didn’t realize at the time how special that was, but it’s a wonderful memory for them now.”
Lomax’s 99-year-old mother also lives in a small house on the property, and Lomax spends time each day tending to her and enjoying her company.
Dr. and Mrs. Lomax, whose vision of a better, brighter, more peaceful world continues to guide their efforts, are the recipients of numerous awards for their achievements, leadership and philanthropy. Throughout his distinguished career as a physician, Dr. Lomax was dedicated to meeting the medical needs of the underserved in the Philadelphia area. In 2003, the couple formed The Lomax Family Foundation, which supports organizations and programs that promote art, health, education and culture in the African American community. In 2010, Dr. Lomax received an honorary Doctor of Science degree and Beverly was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Neumann University in Aston, PA in recognition of their many personal and professional accomplishments. This past spring, the Lomaxes were presented with The Legacy Award from the African American Museum of Philadelphia (AAMP), and The Salvation Army’s Others Award, which is given to individuals who exemplify an extraordinary spirit of service.
Compassion and generosity motivate and inspire the entire Lomax family, but for Beverly, the art of mindful living, the grace of being fully present to each moment, and the act of bringing a tranquil energy to every task, great or small, are the unique ways in which this artist/poet/teacher/homemaker shares the gift of herself.