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Honoring the life and impact of Beverly Stewart, Fresh Start Co-Founder

PHOENIX, AZ (July 26, 2023) – Fresh Start Women’s Foundation holds a heavy heart with the passing of our dedicated Co-Founder, Beverly Stewart.

Beverly’s legacy is one of empowerment,” says Kim McWaters, President and CEO of Fresh Start. “She was a champion in her own life, but also a champion of others—especially women—as she encouraged them to push forward and achieve their full potential.

Her impact in the lives of Arizona’s women is immeasurable,” says McWaters. “Not only is it present in the founding of Fresh Start and her great devotion to advancing our mission, but it is also witnessed in her groundbreaking athletic accomplishments, her dedication to coaching, and her commitment to service.

We at Fresh Start are honored to continue our work of empowering women, a continuation of her resounding legacy.

Obituary: About Beverly Stewart

Beverly Jo (Dryer) Stewart passed away peacefully in her home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, surrounded by her family, on July 23, 2023.  A native Phoenician, she was born September 3, 1938, at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She grew up in Glendale where her parents Olen and Snow Faye Dryer owned a cattle business her father founded in 1948. Beverly and her younger sister Pat would eventually become owners of the now-diversified company.

The sisters’ business ventures expanded in 1990 to include a partnership in Rolf’s salon in central Phoenix. It was there in 1992 the sisters began providing makeovers for a population of women who, at that time, were categorized as “displaced homemakers.” The outreach and varied means of assistance for these women in need grew and, in 2002, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation opened a women’s resource center in central Phoenix, “helping women help themselves.” Today the center serves more than 4,000 women annually.

Image 1: Co-founders and sisters, Pat Petznick and Beverly Stewart; Image 2: (2001) Beverly Stewart lands a hole-in-one at Fresh Start’s Annual Charity Golf Tournament; Image 3: (1996) Pat Petznick, Beverly Stewart, and Jacki Tatman at Rolf’s salon

Although Beverly is well known in the Valley as co-founder of Fresh Start, she enjoyed rewarding experiences in sports and education before transitioning her talents to the foundation 30 years ago.

Images courtesy of the Arizona Softball Foundation

She attended Glendale High School where she excelled in sports, earning a scholarship to Arizona State University, majoring in physical education and later earning her master’s degree. She was a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.

Beverly taught P.E. at West Phoenix High School for 15 years and also taught at Trevor Browne. She was the first in Arizona to serve as a girls’ athletic director when she held that position at Phoenix Union High School District.

A member of the Arizona Softball Hall of Fame, Beverly was a player, coach and contributor to the game of softball in Arizona from 1951-1973. She began her playing career at the age of 12 on teams that eventually led to the world-famous Phoenix PBSW Ramblers. She was a member of 18 regional championship teams, including the PBSW Ramblers and the Sun City Saints, a team she founded in 1965.

Images courtesy of the Arizona Softball Foundation

Beverly was loyal to everyone in her life and made a significant, lasting impact through her genuine nature and beautiful heart. She was a generous supporter of Barrow Neurological Institute among other organizations.

Beverly married Gary Stewart in 1990; they enjoyed 27 years of marriage until his passing in 2014. They were avid golfers and involved together with Shriner’s and the Jesterettes as well as all of Beverly’s Fresh Start activities.

She leaves behind her devoted sister Pat Petznick Wick (Mike); nephews and nieces she adored: Earl Petznick II (Melinda) and Olen Petznick (Belle); great nieces and nephews Alexandra Bray (David), Jeffrey Petznick (Daniela), Jessica Hand (Brian), Earl Arthur Petznick III (Alexis); six great great nieces and one great great nephew. Beverly was preceded in death by her parents, husband Gary and brother-in-law Earl Petznick.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, August 6, 10:30 a.m., at the Jewell McFarland Lewis Fresh Start Women’s Resource Center, 1130 East McDowell, Phoenix 85006. In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations in Beverly’s honor to Fresh Start.

About Fresh Start Women’s Foundation

Fresh Start’s mission is to provide access and resources that help women achieve self-sufficiency and use their strength to thrive. Our ultimate vision is to create unlimited opportunities for women. Over three decades, Fresh Start has supported more than 50,000 Arizona women, serving approximately 3,000 women each year, who are 18 years and older. 86% are mothers, 60% are single mothers and 64% are women of color. These women face a variety of barriers hindering their ability to be personally or financially self-sufficient, including domestic violence, generational poverty, and unemployment. Through our award-winning Impact Program, Fresh Start offers focused programs, services, access to training and education, as well as employment and career services to help women reach their personal and professional goals. For more information, visit or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn