OBITUARY: Beatrice Dabney Adams, 90

Beatrice Dabney Adams, age 90, died peacefully with her family by her side at her home in Dover, Massachusetts on Oct. 7, 2022.

Kind, charming, quiet listener, generous, elegant, mischievous, insightful, stylish, courageous and creative are words that begin to describe her. Caring mother, inspiring grandmother, devoted wife, talented artist, and empathetic friend are some of the many roles she served so well.

Beatrice Dabney Adams

Bee Adams was born and raised in Dover. Her parents were Beatrice Howell and Frederick Lewis Dabney. One of three daughters, she is survived by her sister, Elsie Gordon of Marblehead. Her other sister, Vera Whistler Kelsey, is deceased.

Her grandmother, Gwendolen Whistler Parker, a descendant of the artist James McNeill Whistler, influenced the development of Bee’s creativity and artistic talent.

Bee’s husband, Charles Francis Adams, predeceased her in 1999; as did her former husband, Gianni Penati, in 2018.

She is survived by her son, Giannotto Penati, and his wife, Sharon Huang, and their children, Eilythia and Teo; her half-brother, Fred Dabney; stepdaughters, Abigail Manny and Alison Hagan; and several nieces and nephews. Private services are planned.

Bee attended the Charles River School and Beaver Country Day School, crediting both schools for nurturing her love of art. Her childhood was filled with dogs, ponies and even a pet goose, named “Pompous Ass,” who strutted around the property. She sketched and painted many of them, taking her paint box to her hideaway in the woods.

After attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, she was encouraged to apply to the Beaux-Arts de Paris. Her acceptance came as a scroll tied with a red ribbon.

At the time when she was studying in Paris, her dear friends George Plimpton and Sadri Khan were launching the Paris Review. Bee enjoyed the lively discussions in the cafes with the authors contributing to the magazine, and she created ink portraits of some of them. She appeared on the cover of French Elle magazine, and her detailed ink drawing of the Paris panorama appeared in another French magazine.

Upon returning from Paris, Bee moved to New York. She supported herself through commissions and portraits of children and pets. She delighted in helping fidgeting children to relax and encouraging young people to make art.

She won the Westbury Country Art Gallery’s New Talent Award and exhibited her work there, followed by two shows at the Sagittarius Gallery in New York.

During one of her occasional modeling assignments, she was photographed by Gianni Penati, a famous Italian photographer. She subsequently married him, and their creative talents were passed on to their son, Giannotto, and in turn to her grandchildren.

Following their divorce, she moved back to Dover with her son. Bee married a widower and lifelong friend, Charles Francis Adams. She accompanied him in his role as chairman of Raytheon Company to many international and national meetings. They shared a love of dogs and enjoyed cruising aboard boats always named Auk. The boat was her summer art studio.

Her two shows of paintings at the Stephen Score Gallery in Boston were sold out. She continued to develop her techniques and style until her death.

Charles created the Charles F. and Beatrice D. Adams Charitable Trust. Following his death, in her role as a trustee, Bee became its caring and thoughtful representative in the eyes of its grant recipients.

Her visits to environmental, housing, and arts programs supported by the trust in Downeast Maine introduced her to creative and resourceful leaders addressing the economic and human needs in the region.

The trust’s focus in Massachusetts on children’s behavioral health and arts therapy programs for children reflects Bee’s concern for children most at risk and her belief that art encourages young people to find new and exciting ways to express themselves.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a gift in her honor are encouraged to do so to: Express Yourself, 100 Cummings Center, #165E, Beverly, MA 01915. To share a memory of Bee, please visit

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