Lit Bevard was not a man who was afraid to get his hands dirty.
He built and rebuilt car and truck engines, restored a 1941 Ford pickup to award-winning condition, constructed a shed for his church, repaired household appliances, finished his New Carrollton basement, laid concrete walkways and drove trucks on long and short hauls.
"We learn by doing," he told his daughter and two sons, and he lived that philosophy. Just after his oldest son bought a house, his father worked with him to lift the roof and add another story. As Bevard drew up the plans for a city permit, his wife, Kathlyn, asked him if he knew what he was doing.
"What's to know?" he responded.
Bevard, who died of cancer Sept. 8 at age 75, told the Southern Automotive Journal in 1960 that mechanics shouldn't turn away requests for repairing the new automatic transmissions. Teach yourself, he said, and do as he did: Tear one down, reassemble it and do it a half-dozen times, studying each part and its function.
"If you have tried automatic transmissions and cannot make a go of them, keep a record for analyzing where you miss out," he told the trade journal.
"He did not do anything by half-measures," said Josie O'Donnell, who got to know Bevard after his retirement when both were involved in the Early Ford V-8 Club of America. "My husband summed it up very well: 'Liston was a stand-up guy.' It means that if he gave you his word, you didn't need a signed contract."
Bevard, who was raised on a farm near Sykesville, Md., was mechanically inclined. He learned diesel engine mechanics in the Navy during World War II, working on submarine support ships. After the war and his service discharge, he worked for General Motors in Baltimore. To make ends meet, he welded a tow truck together and took middle-of-the-night emergency calls.
His agility in adapting to changing business conditions mirrored that of his one-time-employer, the Studebaker Co. Before the 114-year-old company closed in 1966, it evolved from making covered wagons for pioneers to wheelbarrows for gold miners to electric horseless carriages to military amphibious vehicles to stylish "modern" autos.
Bevard and his brother Jim started a service station in 1956 at a spot that two years later was lost when the state expanded the highway. He opened his own repair shop a short distance away.
He tried his hand at short-haul trucking, ferrying fuel oil to Fort Belvoir, and invested in a rig that "cost more than this house, and those tires cost something else," his wife said. "I took out my first [credit card] to pay for those tires."
He also tried long-haul trucking, transporting frozen food to Florida. But the trucking life, with its regulations, union politics and customer demands, wasn't independent enough for Bevard. He went back to work with his brother in several service-station ventures and started his own repair shop again, which became Bevard & Son Auto Service.
The business, once behind a veterinarian's office, grew steadily, and soon he was able to support such organizations as the Boys & Girls Clubs and sponsor trophies and events for the Early Ford V-8 Club. He encouraged employees to take advanced training and continuing education for automotive repair, for which he paid. Although Bevard was never much of a businessman, his wife said, he agreed when his younger son, Bill, joined the business and said the shop needed to take credit cards and put its business records on a computer. Bill Bevard now operates the shop in Glendale.
As hardworking as the older Bevard was, he also enjoyed socializing, whether hosting ballroom dancing parties in the basement for couples, talking to a widows' group on how to maintain their cars or helping a neighbor finish a construction project. He was a member of Good Samaritan Lutheran Church in Lanham, and he seemed to take the church's name literally. "He was the kind of neighbor you always wanted," said his older son, Liston Bevard Jr.
The basement of the modest and comfortable family home in New Carrollton is filled with showcases of model cars and trucks and handmade frames for the national and regional awards for the 1941 Ford pickup he meticulously restored to premier condition, teaching himself the techniques he needed.
the techniques along the way and receiving several awards.