OMAK Lifelong Okanogan County resident Jack Beeman, a longtime rancher and cowboy, died the day after Christmas. He was 79.
“Nobody was any nicer to anybody than old Jack Beeman,” longtime friend Ed Thiele said.
Thiele, of Omak, said he’d known Beeman for more than 60 years. They were among several Okanogan County residents who traveled to rodeos together for several years when they were young men.
“We’d go as far away as the far side of Montana,” Thiele said. “He was one in a million.”
Beeman, who competed in saddle bronc and bullriding, won the 1957 all-around crown at the Chesaw Fourth of July Rodeo. He received a silver buckle and belt.
Thiele remembered Beeman as someone who “got into a lot of stuff” in the way of organizations, and gave his all to those chosen projects including rodeo organizations and the Loomis Mountain View Cemetery. He helped with cemetery upkeep for many years.
The two men, who were six months apart in age, joked a lot and “were on each other all the time,” Thiele said. “I always was proud to say I was a friend to old Jack Beeman.”
When he heard his friend had died, “I cried like a baby.”
Beeman had been ill for several weeks and had been hospitalized in Spokane before returning home to Loomis.
“He has fought a great fight,” his daughter, Shauna Beeman, wrote on her Facebook page Dec. 23. “We will always admire his strength and perseverance and we will support him in his life decisions.”
Beeman lived the last 21 years of his life with a transplanted heart, which he received Jan. 1, 1993.
“I never felt this good in many years,” he told The Chronicle a week after the operation. “I can’t even explain to you just how good I feel.”
In 2001, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer of the throat, he called the heart transplant “a miracle. My heart is perfect. I haven’t had one problem with it.”
“Regardless of other health challenges he faced, his life was full and productive, and when illness or pain knocked him down, he got right back up and rode on,” his family said in a memorial tribute.
Beeman was born Sept. 7, 1934, on North Pine Creek to Harry and Pearl Beeman and had lived on the same ranch at Loomis since he was 6. He had worked for every owner since then.
“The back country was his brother, and no one knew better than Jack how to manage an ornery cow or judge a good horse,” the family said.
He volunteered as a rodeo organizer, serving on the Tonasket Rodeo Board and as its president for many years, and on the Omak Stampede Associate Board for several years. He also was an elected commissioner for Fire District No. 10 for a number of years.
A service for Beeman will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Loomis Community Church with Bob Haskell and John Newton officiating.
A mounted escort will accompany his body from the church to the Loomis Mountain View Cemetery for a graveside service.
The family invites anyone interested to bring a horse and ride along.
A dinner will follow at the church.
Survivors include his wife, Karmen Beeman of Loomis; children and their spouses Shauna Beeman and Ryan Marchant, Jackie and Devin Richter, Sarah and David Grooms, and Joan and Dan Stanfield; brothers and sisters Irene Williams, Ruth Nixon, Linda Pauley, Bert Beeman, Jerry Beeman and Phill Green; 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Ward Green, Benny Beeman and Odie Beeman; sister Wanda Bear; son Hoot (Jon) Beeman, and niece Tammy Gage.