Marianna Kistler Beach

Please note change: The “program” for Mrs. Beach will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 16th at the K-State Alumni Center in Manhattan, KS, people will then go to the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art for the Celebration of Life.


Marianna Kistler Beach, 94, died at her home in Lawrence Kansas on November 1, 2014. She was born November 24, 1919 in Lincoln, Kansas to Elmer Levi and Myrtle Mae (Skinner) Kistler of Lincoln. The family moved to Manhattan, KS in 1934 in order for the children to have college educations in the lean years of the Great Depression. She graduated from Manhattan High School in 1937 and Kansas State University in 1941, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Phi Journalism Honorary and Mortar Board. She was instrumental on the student committee to obtain legislative approval to use student fees to enable construction of the Kansas State Student Union.

She was married to Ross Beach on June 1, 1941 and they were devoted to each other for 69 years until his death in 2010. Residents of Hays, Kansas for over 60 years, they finally moved full time to Lawrence in 2000.

A consummate traveler, Marianna wrote detailed journals of their safaris to Africa and India. She was deeply involved with the Kansas-Paraguay Partners and the Sister Cities Program, promoting cultural and technical exchange among the peoples of the United States and Latin America. Determined to never use a translator in her volunteer work in South America, she enrolled at the age of 65 in an summer immersion class in Spanish in Quito, Ecuador through Georgetown University.

An ardent supporter of the arts, Marianna was a member of the Mid America Arts Alliance, president of the Hays Arts Council, and wrote a column on art and city beautification for the Hays Daily News for over twenty years. She was instrumental in convincing her husband, in commemoration of their 50th anniversary, to establish the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art on the campus of Kansas State University to ensure art be available for all Kansans to enjoy.

With a lifelong devotion to the needs of individuals with special needs, she worked tirelessly in supporting efforts to maximize the potential of handicapped individuals, having served on the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation for two terms and as the U.S. representative to and president of the Inter-American Children’s Institute of the Organization of American States from 1982 – 1988. She was extremely active on the local level also. Because of her tireless efforts in this field, the Beach Center for Families and Disabilities at the University of Kansas was named in their honor.

Recognized by numerous organizations throughout her life, her most treasured awards were by Fort Hays State University with the Distinguished Service Award, Kansas State University with the Alumni Medallion Award, Kansas University with the Distinguished Service Citation, Topeka Daily Capital as a “Kansan of Distinction”, and People to People “Volunteer of the Year” award.

Beach also participated in her local community as a member of PEO, the First Presbyterian Church (Hays), Westside Presbyterian Church (Lawrence), Smoky Hills Public Television Board, Tennola and many other organizations. Personal pleasures were in having earned her private pilot’s license at age 45 and participating in weekly conversation groups in French and Spanish until recently.

Marianna was pre-deceased by her parents and her husband. She is survived by her three daughters: Mary (Gary) McDowell, Pt. Townsend, WA; Terry (R.A.) Edwards, Hutchinson, and Jane (Steve) Hipp, Jackson, WY. Also surviving is a brother, Lee Kistler of Evergreen, CO, and a sister, Janet Bush of Littleton, CO, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Cremation has taken place. Her ashes will be co-mingled with those of her husband and spread over their beloved State of Kansas, and their “adopted” country of Kenya.

Because Marianna and her husband took a special interest in supporting efforts to maximize the potential of special needs individuals, in addition to enhancing international cooperation, the family suggests memorials to the 4-H Foundation for the Rock Springs Wah-Shun-Gah Ranch for Kansas campers with unique needs, or to the Center for Life Experiences at the First Presbyterian Church in Hays, KS and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044. The family requests no flowers.

The program for Mrs. Beach will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 16th at the K-State Alumni Center in Manhattan, KS, then people will go to the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art for the Celebration of Life.

10 Condolences

  1. Robert M. Still Jr. on November 2, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Please accept our sincere condolences and sympathy.
    Melba & Robert Still

  2. Clenece Hills on November 2, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Marianna died on All Saints Day. How appropriate. She lived her life in a saintly way without ever losing her sense of humor, her dignity, her determination. I first met her in Hays in 1956 when she had a rush party for the Pi Phis. Years later we became double-sisters when we shared a membership in PEO and Pi Beta Phi.
    I will always remember Marianna’s many kindnesses to me, and I will always admire the huge impact she and Ross have had on the improvement of the state of Kansas.
    To all of her family – thank you for sharing this wonderful, worthwhile woman with all of us. I will miss her so much.
    Clenece Hills

  3. William L. (Bill) Muir on November 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Ross and Marianna Beach were close family friends — Ross and my father Tom were business partners in the Beechcraft distributorship in Wichita for many years. Marianna, Ross’ life partner, was a beautiful, vivacious, vibrant and involved individual who was loved by all — she graduated with my Dad in 1941.

    Her family and friends have lost a truly wonderful woman who never thought or said a bad thing about anyone. My family will miss her smile and her loving ways. Our lives were blessed by her presence on this Earth. God Bless her always. Bill Muir. Manhattan

  4. Michael Wehmeyer on November 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    It was an honor to know Mr. and Mrs. Beach. Their contributions to the causes related to disability have made and will continue to make a meaningful difference in the quality of life of people with disabilities and their families. Those of us at the Beach Center on Disability are proud to be able to carry on the legacy of Mrs. Beach. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time.

  5. Charlotte and Doyle Rahjes on November 9, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    We were privileged to have worked and traveled with Marianna and Ross since 1985. Their presence and gifts of love have changed lives throughout the world, our nation, state and community. We celebrate the legacy they leave behind. Condolences and sympathy are extended to their family and friends.

  6. Mary on November 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I never knew you personally, but have enjoyed and continue to enjoy your museum on the KSU campus. You have given a gift of your life that will endure forever and for generation to be inspired by the arts and all it has to offer for self expression and healing. I thank you and know that you are at peace.

  7. Twila Logsdon on November 11, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Family members – please accept my sympathy and prayers. What a lady! She was so gracious and kind. May she Rest in Peace.

  8. Jan Wissman on November 11, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Marianna was a proud and dedicated KSU Mortar Board alum.
    When her class of 1941 returned to campus for their 50th KSU Mortar Board reunion in 1991, she and Martha Streeter provided leadership among their peers and spouses to establish an endowed 1941 Mortar Board Leadership Fund. They stipulated that the fund would be used to support Mortar Board leadership development projects. Mariana was especially interested in seeing that some of the funds go to support leadership development among middle-school students, a group she believed was often overlooked in university sponsored leadership programs. As a long-time advisor for the K-State Chapter, I have been privileged to see first hand the continuing benefits of this investment. Thank You, Marianna!

  9. Pat Schmidt on November 12, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Marianna was my dearest friend, mentor and inspiration. I was an unknowing school girl from Kinsley when we met. My husband Bob and Ross were partners in the ownership of several Radio and Television stations in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas. Marianna introduced me to all her friends in Hays, her sorority sisters and other organizational members. She made me feel that I belonged. We both served as members of the Hays Arts Council and both served as President of that organization. She was so kind and by example and subtle suggestion helped me in what I was to wear and how to be comfortable whether in Hays, New York, Hollywood or Washington DC. We traveled together with our husbands to CBS-TV events in many exotic places. I will be forever grateful for her friendship and guidance.

  10. Connie Taggart on November 1, 2017 at 4:15 am

    My deepest sympathy. She was a beautiful lady.

Leave a Condolence