An entire generation of horse lovers is in mourning as the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company announced the death of Maureen Beebe over Memorial Day weekend. Known nationally as the woman who inspired the book "Misty of Chincoteague," Maureen will be deeply missed by her entire community on Chincoteague Island as well as by every woman, man, and child who fell in love with her story.
"It is with great sadness that the Chincoteague Vol Fire Co. announces the death of our dear friend, Maureen Beebe. A true Chincoteague icon with a huge heart and huge personality."
Published in 1947, "Misty of Chincoteague" is a book about a Chincoteague family that attends the pony swim and pony penning every year. One year, a little girl (depicted as Maureen), convinces her family to purchase a pony named Phantom and her filly named Misty. The story is about the bond that can form between horse and human, and it's been a horse girl's favorite book for generations.
While "Misty of Chincoteague" is fiction, the characters, including the two ponies, are all based on real life. The events are true to the real pony swim and pony penning that sees the area's wild herd swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island every year. Some of the ponies are auctioned to good homes to help maintain the herd and raise money for the local fire department. Maureen played a leading role, and the story is based on her love of horses and the wild ponies that make that part of the country unique.
According to the fire company's post, Maureen's legacy extends well past the pages of her book.
"The island will never be the same, and we as individuals and company as a whole have been forever blessed by her gift of love and friendship that she bestowed to each of us. Ride high, Maureen, we will love you forever!"
Maureen inspired an entire generation of horse lovers, and her story will continue to live on.