[Follow Ups] [Post Followup] [Marin County Obits Board]

Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Sunday, February 26, 2006 at 10:14:30 :

Point Reyes Light - June 12, 2003

William Beebe, 84, to be buried in his boots

By Larken Bradley

Former Olema dairy rancher, Wilson Dell Beebe, whose bovines long grazed on what is now part of Golden Gate National Seashore, died Wednesday, June 4, at his Petaluma ranch of natural causes. He was 84.

A West Marin dairyman for more than a quarter century, Mr. Beebe and his family leased pastureland from the DeSouza clan from 1950 to 1976. After the GGNRA took over the acreage, the familyís house and barn became valuable salvage material for local residents. These days Point Reyes National Seashore uses the former ranch as its green-waste, fire prevention collection site each summer.

A sixth-generation Californian, Mr. Beebe was born on October 11, 1918, in Fort Bragg. His forebears are reported to be the first non-indigenous settlers in Point Arena. By marriage he was related to members of the Hoopa and Pomo tribes, his family noted.

Lumberman in youth

A lumberman from his youth, before he had turned 10, young Wilson cut wood for the family hearth. He was also responsible for chopping enough fuel for the wood cook stove in his auntís north coast restaurant. Before the advent of the chainsaw, as a young adult he topped and logged trees for the lumber industry.

Six-feet, two-inches tall, Mr. Beebe was a muscular, blonde-haired, red-bearded man, built like the lumberjack he was. During World War II he served as a rigger on the liberty ships in Oaklandís naval shipyards.

Before opening the Olema dairy, Mr. Beebe worked briefly at the old Bull Tail ranch in Nicasio, now the site of filmmaker George Lucasí Skywalker Ranch.

Remembered as a hard worker, in addition to operating the Olema dairy he raised heifers in Inverness, and mowed hay at what is now the Vedanta Society in Olema.

Plainspoken and direct

A plainspoken fellow, "Iím like good cowsh-t," he once told his daughter, Skipper Beebe, "Iím everywhere."

After the GGNRA took over the ranch in 1976, Mr. Beebe bought the old Hall Ranch near Bloomfield, 15 miles outside of Petaluma. Now known as the Green Diamond Ranch, the Avila family has leased and operated the dairy since Mr. Bebeeís retirement in 1990.

On Tuesday, Jerry Harrington of Bloomfield, a close friend for more than 50 years, recalled his friendís honesty and fondness for practical joking. "His character was above reproach, but he was a character," Harrington reflected.

As to his distinctly direct manner, "You always knew where you stood with Beebe."

A devoted family man, after his wife Blancheís death in 1997 he kept her ashes stored in an urn on a bookshelf and erected a memorial headstone in the front yard.

"I didnít mind," his daughter told The Light, "but a lot of family members thought it was spooky."

While not publicly demonstrative, he is remembered by family members for romantic gestures such as casting rose petals before his wifeís feet as the two strolled together. Female visitors to the ranch were oftentimes sent home with a long-stemmed rose freshly cut by Mr. Beebe, Harrington recalled.

Lover of the outdoors

An avid hunter and lover of the outdoors, this week his family wrote, "He is well known for... the time he took to save a tiny pine tree one day, as well as giving his breakfast to some small chipmunks."

Mr. Beebe will be buried in his jeans, boots, and with a can of Copenhagen chew tucked into the pocket of his plaid shirt, his daughter revealed.

He was predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Blanche Beebe.

Mr. Beebe is survived by his daughters, Terry Dell Robello of Novato; and Skipper Lynn Beebe of Petaluma; son, Jerry Beebe of Windsor; six grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and his companion, Dorothy Jones of Valley Ford.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 15, at Parent-Sorenson Mortuary, Magnolia Ave. and Keokuk Street, Petaluma. Viewing will begin at 8 a.m.

The family has suggested that any memorial contributions be made to Hospice of Petaluma, 416 Payran St., Petaluma 94952.

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup


copyright © 2006 Pamela Storm and Ron Filion. All rights reserved.
powered by SpudBoard