Written by: Pam Platt, WaterStep Communication Specialist
In separate conversations, both Rebecca Dever and her mother, Ann, repeat those three words when asked about Mark Dever, father and husband.
More than a motto, it was and is a philosophy the family lives into. Not even Mark’s sudden death in 2022 at age 60 has blunted the impact of a life force urging exploration, accomplishment, and enjoyment.
From his obituary: “… He was most recently employed at Humana as a lead product owner. With his family he shared his love for adventure, daddy shortcuts, a good glass of bourbon, and a bad joke … Please help us celebrate his memory by wearing your best Hawaiian shirt or tropical outfit.”
Little wonder then that his family carries this spirited dynamic forward with them, most tellingly in a WaterStep project in Tanzania they are funding in his name, honor, and memory. Rebecca said her family wanted to do the project to “give us all a piece of him.”
She approached WaterStep, which had an idea now being realized more than 8,000 miles from Louisville, Ky., home to the roots of the organization and the Dever family.
The project will bring safe water to a new school for girls, more than fitting for parents who wanted the best education for their two daughters, and for a family of engineers also dedicated to giving back and serving others.
Building on a WaterStep BleachMaker already in place at a nearby church, the Dever project’s expansion will provide three big tanks of chlorinated water at the village church in Bunyama, a medical center in Kogaja and the school in Ikoma … changing the lives and futures of people in these nearby villages with the life-saving, life-extending tools and the accompanying knowledge and skills that come with them.
A perfect fit for this Dever family of engineers – Mark and Ann, educated at UofL; older daughter Rachel, Notre Dame University; and Rebecca, Purdue University, where she earned the school’s third multidisciplinary engineering degree, her concentration in humanitarianism.
A youth spent immersed in service projects at Mercy Academy and in the Girl Scouts, steeped in the family ethic of giving back, and following the lead of what she calls her dad’s “big heart” already had activated the “go … see … do” in Rebecca.
Rebecca’s life so far also brings to mind what author Isaac Asimov once said: “Science can amuse and fascinate us all, but it is engineering that changes the world.”
By her high school years, she had been recognized for her exceptional volunteerism with a Bell Award in Louisville, a Governors Award in Kentucky, and a Gold Award from the Girl Scouts.
The heart of this recognition was a two-and-a-half-year project in which Rebecca led efforts to revitalize a cemetery in Louisville where people who had been homeless were buried.
She worked with the city as well as a few private organizations to create a database and document who was buried there and where. She organized the renovation of a wooden shelter for visitors to the River Valley Cemetery, and placing of a protected directory of graves there. She also worked with an artist and a Boy Scout to create and place named bricks that could serve as headstones for those who didn’t have them. She felt strongly that everyone deserves love and respect, that those in the cemetery had had family, and should feel love.
Both Rebecca and Ann recall the shock, and gratitude, when they heard from someone who, after the cemetery project, wrote, “You found my dad!”
And now, thanks to the Dever family’s support of WaterStep, people in Tanzania are going to find Rebecca and Rachel’s dad there, too.
Like other chapters in the family’s life, the WaterStep association grew out of a way to give back.
Rebecca’s two college summer internships with WaterStep started when she showed up as a volunteer to help sort donated shoes, which are sold to exporters to fund the organization’s outreach around the world.
When WaterStep discovered she was an engineering student, they placed her in the manufacturing department. The subsequent internships helped Rebecca focus her career on water.
The 24-year-old currently works as a quality engineer in the Chicago area for Pentair, a company specializing in “smart, sustainable water solutions.”
Ann says, “So many things work out the way they’re supposed to be.”
And it started with a dad who urged his daughters to go … see … do. And they did.