Brenda Davenport Rivenbark died peacefully at New Hanover Regional Hospital on June 3, 2023, surrounded by her family. She was born on June 27, 1940, in Robersonville, North Carolina, to the late Christine and Ervin Davenport.
From the tobacco fields of Martin County to the halls of Duke University, Brenda’s unrelenting thirst for knowledge propelled her to a life of great joy in sharing her love and passion for learning. She graduated from Robersonville High School in 1957 and attended Wake Forest University as a Hankins Scholarship recipient. She completed her studies at Wake Forest where she received a BA in Mathematics in 1961. Brenda began her teaching career in Wayne County in the fall of 1962, where she remained until moving to Pender County in 1963 to become a teacher at Penderlea High School. Continuing to grow her knowledge, she then went on to study at East Carolina University and received a Master of Science in Counselor Education, Masters in Mathematics, and an Education Specialist (Eds) degree. Those achievements would not be the final chapter in learning for Brenda. She could not defy the calling to pursue her dream of studying at Duke University. In May of 1983, she received her PhD In Education from Duke University. Many students all over North Carolina have benefited from Saturday morning kitchen table tutoring with her and found success in the classroom due to her patience and drive to help students achieve.
Brenda’s storied professional career would take her all over North Carolina and multiple other states. She ultimately would serve in 9 public schools, 7 counties, and 5 different colleges/universities over six decades. Brenda was a champion of children and served eight years as a member of the Pender County Board of Education. In 1988, she was especially proud to be among a select group of professionals chosen to lead the first class of Campbell University's School of Education PhD students. During her final years in education, she supervised groups of student teachers completing their practical field experience for East Carolina University until her retirement at age 75.
While her career was a great source of pride, Brenda’s greatest joys included shelling walks on the beach with her grandsons, singing The Ice Cream Song on long car rides, antiquing and turtle watching with best friend Bonnie Page, oil painting, and shopping with friend and caregiver Cathy Keith and daughter Christina. Her willpower and determination to enjoy life were stronger than any physical challenge and, no matter what life threw at her, she always persevered saying, “I have miles to go and promises to keep.” She was resolute in her commitment to be fully present for her family and friends. They may have lost their most ardent cheerleader, but her joyful spirit endures in each of them.
She is survived by her loving husband of 61 years, Franklin Dan Rivenbark, her daughter Christina Rivenbark of Wilmington, North Carolina, her youngest daughter Eva Rivenbark Thornton and husband Warren Gregory Thornton of Clinton, North Carolina, her son, Dennis Levkovich of Belarus; and her beloved grandsons, Albert and Andrew Thornton, who affectionately called her “Gigi”.
The family will receive friends 5 to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, June 4, 2023 at Quinn McGowen Funeral Home Burgaw Chapel.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, June 5, 2023, at Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, North Carolina with The Rev. Danny Justice conducting the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center., 302 Tortuga Lane, Surf City, NC 28445 or seaturtlehospital.org
Shared memories and condolences may be sent to the family by selecting Tribute Wall.
Quinn-McGowen Funeral Home of Burgaw.
Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
302 Tortuga Lane, Surf City NC 28445