George Paul Beech Jr. passed away at his home in rural Byron on Thursday afternoon May 11, 2023, surrounded by his children having survived 500 heartbroken days after losing his precious wife Elizabeth (Betty).
George was born on April 8, 1938 in Slayton to George Oliver Beech and Minnie Theodora Oldewurtel Beech in the bedroom to the left at the top of stairs in their MN farm. He grew up on the Slayton farm with his parents, brothers, and sister. George met Betty at The Hatfield Dance Hall while they were still in high school. He bribed a mutual friend to introduce him to her and the rest, as they say, is history.
George and Betty were married in September 1961 after requesting a delay in his draft orders to attend his own wedding. He served in the U.S. Army from October 18, 1961, to August 26, 1963 as a radio operator and morse code expert in Korea. After his service, the young family moved to Bemidji, MN where George studied elementary education at Bemidji State College. Upon graduation, the family moved to Byron, where George had been offered a teaching position. Over 31 years, George taught 3rd grade and 5th grade in the Byron School system and is fondly remembered by many of his students as their favorite teacher, always standing up for the underdog and making sure each child understood their intrinsic value. He conferred many a delightful nickname upon his students. George also painted houses in the summer, tended bar at "the corner" municipal, and attended school to earn his master's degree while teaching and raising his family.
In 1977, George and Betty bought a small farm south of Byron where they raised dairy goats, cows, horses, stray cats, dogs, and four children. He was a playful dad that didn't hesitate to jump into any role that might be needed for a 4-H project, church program, or just because one child or another may have needed a grown up to be a horse on his hands and knees. George was always famously available for his children and would stop whatever he was doing to visit whenever one of them showed up at the door (or in the garage).
After retirement, George still loved to drive the school bus as a substitute. Being a substitute and taking a variety of different routes wherever he was needed, he often enlisted the aid of the kids to find their homes, a story that has been told by many a child riding his bus. He also mowed for the city of Byron and returned to Byron Elementary to read to the children as a volunteer. George loved his retired teachers' group of friends, his former college buddies, his always helpful neighbors, and his 4:00 PM friends at the American Legion whom he considered "a family".
George received Hospice Care from Mayo Clinic from the same amazing and familiar team that had cared for Betty. His children cared tenderly for him at home as he had cared so lovingly for them. George is survived by his brother Paul Beech, sister - in - laws Connie Toner and Mary Kay Lubke, children Stacy Sinner (Michael), Susie Paynter (Jim), George Beech (Christine) and Angela Vizenor (JP), 12 grandchildren; Terry, Laura, Richard, Matthew, Christopher, Jestine, Elizabeth (Ellie), Nichole, Katherine, Caitlyn, Jaxon, and Mason, 14 great grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, and friends. He is preceded in death by his love Betty, parents, brother Jerry, and sister Audrey.
Visitation will be at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home, 5421 Royal Place NW Rochester, MN on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 from 4-7 PM. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at the Byron United Methodist Church 503 First Ave NW Byron, MN at 11:00 AM with visitation starting at 10 AM. Lunch will be served following the service.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Beech family; to share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com
"I was a classmate of Betty?s in the class of 1958 in Pipestone. Through Betty I met George at class reunions. When Betty was ill I followed her journey so elegantly told by her children. At the reunion last year I greeted George who entered the hall holding a beautiful book of Betty?s art. He was crying. I know being there without Betty was so difficult. I have just finished watching the tribute to George and have learned that he was funny, he loved all children, he liked beer and sweatshirts, he loved animals, he had many friends, he was a great teacher and contributed to the community of Bryon in addition to his country. The thread that bound these thing together was
Betty. Their commitment to each other and to their family was outstanding and reciprocated with love. George is not crying anymore. He and Betty are together and continue to watch over all members of their family. Sharon Forman Streetar"
"George was my 8th grade football coach in 1969. We were terrible. I think we won one game, but George did the best he could with the talent starved group he was "blessed" with. Looking back on it, he probably deserves sainthood for putting up with us. In the end, I think we all had fun, George included. In later years it was a pleasure seeing and talking with him. Always a kind and genuine man. Ironically, the last time I spoke with him was at a funeral in Byron a few years back. Of course he was helping out at the luncheon afterwards. I can certainly understand why his students were so fond of him. RIP coach!"
"George was my daughter, Heather?s teacher. She was quiet and shy. He put her at ease in school. He called her ?For your eyes Oney?, after the song ?For Your Eyes Only?. This meant so much to me, that he was a comfort to her. After she passed away he said he chose the grave next to her in the Byron Cemetery. So now we will be cemetery neighbors. I?m very grateful to him. Thank you George, Mary Oney"
"My heart goes out to the family of George Beech. He was my 5th grade teacher in 1971-72...I remember him as caring, kind, patient, and motivating. My first "man teacher" and I adored him. My fondest memory of that year is when I put my classmate/cousin up to asking him "are you a son of a Beech?" There was no punishment for the inappropriate words; only a smile and head shake--he understood 5th grade nonsense. Truly one of my favorite teachers at Byron. Wishing your family comfort in your wonderful memories.
Carol (Zoller) Lenn"
"We have lost a wonderful person. Will miss his smile and humor at our 4 o'clock meetings. God Bless my friend."
"A larger than life man! His humor, light spirit, and huge heart all played a part in his legacy. I am honored to have known him and his son who carries on his family tradition. Psst?George, do you remember your dad busting us for holding hands during a movie in his class? ?"
"Our deepest condolences.
Andrea and JB (RPD)"
"What a wonderful friend and colleague all these years. George will be missed, but he's now with Betty again.
"Mr. Beech was a beautiful soul inside and out! RIP. "
"I am saddened to hear of the passing of our beloved 'Mr. Beech'. I am but one of the thousands of Byron students whose lives were positively impacted by this wonderful man. Caring, funny, smart, dedicated, and always wearing that mischievous little grin, George Beech was my favorite teacher. If the measure of a man is the impact he has had on his family, his friends, and his community, George Beech was truly a giant!
Thank you, Mr. Beech, for all you've done. It is an honor to have known you, and your family can be proud of a life well lived. Now, it is time for you to Rest In Peace with your beloved Betty.
Ray Hartleip (BHS Class of ?78)
"Our Byron Legion family will never be the same again without you. I personally going to miss your friendship and your uncanny wit. Breathe easy my dear friend. "
"Mr. Beech was probably the best teacher ever!
I loved him and he will be missed for years!
Rest in peace, Mr. Beech."