Jay Beeler

It has been a blessing to have an older brother to look up to and to learn from. My brother, Thomas Edward Beeler, was four years older and we shared numerous experiences during life’s journey.

I fondly remember the summer of 1964 when he picked me up at LAX in his convertible MGB sports car. It was a warm, balmy evening as we headed for his place in Belmont Shore to dump my belongings. Afterward it was off to one of many weekly parties the 20-something crowd of college graduates would host. Most at the parties were elementary school teachers and junior level officers from the Long Beach Naval Station.

It was a seminal moment. Right then and there I decided that Long Beach would be where I’d attend college on the GI Bill after I was discharged from the US Air Force the following year. Tom came to Long Beach after graduating with an engineering degree from Philadelphia’s Drexel University to work for North American Rockwell, an aerospace firm in Downey.

There was a time between 1965 and 1968 when Tom and I shared apartments and a Naples home with his German Shorthair Pointer, Gus der schlaue Jäger, which translates to “Gus the clever hunter.”

Tom too was a clever hunter. In his teen years he enjoyed small game hunting and catching trout in the local streams in our hometown of Waynesboro, Penna. I have a photo of him with a huge smile on his face holding up nine trout that he caught in one day.

When growing up, Tom taught me that it was not appropriate to burn the wooden floor of our Beltsville, Maryland, home using a soldering iron. I was about four then and still maintain a scar on my thigh where he let me know what a hot iron felt like.

Our parents, Samuel and Rieman Beeler, had four children. Joyce, Margaret and Thomas came along between 1937 and 1939. I was the “oops” child, born in 1943.

Beyond any doubt, Tom had all the brains in our family. He went on to get a master’s degree in mathematics, spending many years working for Boeing in Seattle using computers in flight simulation.

He was the best man at my 1968 wedding to Anita and I was his best man at his marriage to Nola in 1978. They would soon become parents to daughters Annalisa and Karina.

In the following years we would be known as the Beelers south and the Beelers north. Upon his retirement from Boeing, Tom and Nola moved to the less populous towns of Edmonds and Anacortes.

Nola passed away in October 2021 following 21 years of staving off Parkinson’s disease. We lost Anita last March from heart disease.

Last summer Tom and I shared much time together fixing up the gazebo in our back yard. Mid-morning breaks at local coffee houses and going out to dinner was a reminder of our earlier years together in Belmont Shore.

Then came the sad news a few months later that Tom was battling colon cancer. Chemotherapy during the holidays was followed by radiation treatments in January. In early February I joined with our sister Margaret and two of her children to share some love with Tom and his family members in Anacortes.

He was obviously fatigued by the drugs and treatments, but we left him feeling good about the visitation and hopeful that his prognosis was good. When we last spoke for more than a half hour in the evening of Feb. 23 it was obvious that Tom was in pain and somewhat incoherent. The writing was on the wall.

The brother that I so dearly loved passed away Monday evening at the age of 83 with his daughters at his side. Thanks for the memories, Tom. Rest in peace.


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