A Celebration of Life for Ross Beach, 92, Lawrence, KS, will be held from 4:30 to 7 PM on Thursday, November 18 at the Douglas County Bank (9th & Kentucky St.) in Lawrence, KS. A Memorial Service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Hays, KS at 1 PM on Tuesday, Nov. 30th. He died on Friday, November 12, 2010, at his home in Lawrence.
Mr. Beach was born on February 22, 1918 in Abilene, KS, the son of Roy and Mary (Lankow) Beach. Upon his mother’s death two weeks later, from childbirth complications, he was taken in by the uncle for whom he had been named, Ross Beach, of Solomon, KS and his wife, Mattie (Lowe) to be raised. His four-year old brother, Roy, remained with his father, and the two families and the two boys remained close friends throughout the years.
Young Ross Beach moved to Hays, KS with his adoptive parents in 1923, when the senior Beach was named manager of the newly-established Central Kansas Power Co., owned in part by the same people who had employed him in the Solomon Power Company and in part by Mr. Beach. Young Ross completed the public schools in Hays, where he learned about the energy field from his father, digging pipelines, and assisting in various aspects during the summer. He then enrolled at Kansas State University, graduating in 1940. He is a registered professional engineer.
On June 1, 1941, he married Marianna Kistler, of Manhattan, KS.
Mr. Beach served in naval aviation during World War II, with active retirement on- call in the fall of 1945. He continued to utilize flying in his growing investments in the oil and gas industry, logging more than one million miles and receiving numerous citations for his record of flight safety.
He was president of Kansas Natural Gas Company, Inc. and Chairman of the Board of Douglas County Bank, in Lawrence. He was active in radio and television development and ranching. His success in business enabled him to be active in his community, and also to serve on various boards, in which he enthusiastically devoted his time and interest, serving as President or Chairman of the Kansas State Chamber of Commerce, now the Kansas Association of Commerce and Industry, the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission, the Kansas 4-H Foundation, and the Kansas State Fair. He was a member of the board of the former First National Bank of Kansas City, Dillon’s Stores, Inc. of Hutchinson, Woods Petroleum Corporation, the National Aircraft Association, and various other business and charitable organizations.
He was named Kansan of the Year in 2001 by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas. Ross and Marianna Beach were both recipients of the Citations for Distinguished Service from the University of Kansas, and Fort Hays State University. In addition, he received the President’s Award from Kansas State University in 1989.
Through the establishment of the Ross and Marianna Beach Foundation, they have benefited Fort Hays State University, the Sternberg Natural History Museum in Hays, the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, the Beach Center for Disability at the University of Kansas, the Lied Center for the Performing Arts at KU and Lawrence Memorial Hospital. In addition, they created an endowed professorship in Special Education at KU and received the Bob Dole Humanitarian Award from the Kansas University Department of Special Education for their support of programs in that field.
Mr. Beach was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Hays, an associate member of the West Side Presbyterian Church of Lawrence, of the Order of the Eastern Star, the Elks, Masons and Shrine, and of Quiet Birdmen. He is a senior active member of Rotary and a Paul Harris Fellow. His fraternity was Beta Theta Pi.
Survivors include his wife, Marianna, of the home and his three daughters: Mary (husband, Gary) McDowell, of Port Townsend, WA, Terry (husband, R.A.) Edwards, of Hutchinson, KS, and Jane (Steven L.) Hipp, of Wichita, KS. Also surviving are eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Beach and his wife took a special interest in contributing to education and the arts, and also in supporting efforts to maximize the potential of handicapped individuals. The family suggests memorials in his name to the Kansas 4-H Foundation for the Rock Springs Wah-Shun-Gah Ranch for Kansas campers with unique and special needs, or to the Center for Life Experiences at the First Presbyterian Church in Hays.