Willis “Bill” Beecher, age 92, of Canby, MN died Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at his home in Canby. A Private family service will be held at 2 pm on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Friends will be allowed for a walk-through visitation with respect to social distancing from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at the Houseman Funeral Home, Birk Chapel, Canby, MN. Burial will be in the St. Stephen’s Cemetery, Canby, MN.
On the morning of Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Willis “Bill” Gene Beecher, loving husband and father, passed away at the age of 92.
Bill was born October 5, 1927 in Dawson, Minnesota to Gustav and Alice Beecher. Bill was one of eight children living on a small farm just outside of Canby, Minnesota. His education began in the District 42 one-room schoolhouse, where he received an 8th grade education, and continued learning, and educating others throughout his entire life. Bill worked on his family farm until he and his brother, Ted were drafted into the military in support of the United States during the Korean War. He was very proud to serve as in the United States Marine Corps from 1951-1953. Corporal Beecher was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It was in nearby Wilmington, that Bill was to meet his future bride at the Moose Club. Subsequently on a snowy day in North Carolina, January 23, 1954, Bill married Mary Frances “Fran” Klein. They raised four children; two daughters, Debra and Sherrill, and two sons, Michael and David. Following his military service, Bill and his brother Ted went into business together to create Beecher Brothers. As his children grew older, each contributed to the farm in their own way, but it was Mike and David who joined Beecher Farms. Bill had a passion for people. He was very social and always enjoyed meeting new people. It is that passion that led him to serving with several boards and councils including: Lac Qui Parle-Yellow Bank Watershed District Board, Area II Minnesota River Basin Projects, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, National Livestock and Meat Board, Minnesota Beef Council, and Canby Farmer’s Grain Elevator Board. Bill served as an usher at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Canby, MN. Along with his great love of farming and serving his community, Bill also loved to travel and fly. He completed pilot ground school getting his pilot’s license along with his son, David, and bought an airplane with three of his dear friends. It was a sad day when they decided to sell the plane. Bill would periodically say he wanted to buy another one. He loved to attend the Canby Fly-In and really enjoyed a good pancake breakfast! Bill and Fran would sometimes take a winter vacation in Texas with good friends to enjoy the warm weather and the occasional margarita, or visit family and friends in North Carolina, Missouri, and Connecticut. Coming as no surprise to those that knew him, Bill was a strong, lifelong Democrat who smoozed with the likes of the Vice President of the United States Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Congressman Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson, and even could be seen crossing party lines chatting with former governors Tim Pawlenty and Jesse Ventura. Bill was overheard saying to Jesse, “Well, you must be doing something right because people are sure talking about you.” Bill had that charismatic way of softening constructive language. He and Fran even received an invitation to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inaugural ball. Bill had a life-long love affair with steak, a beer with a side of Jim Beam, and pickled herring. Holidays would include more favorites; Waldorf salad, chocolate covered cherries, oyster stew, and clementine oranges, and always a ham which he’d sometimes won at a local raffle. He would tell his stories of walking 5 miles to school everyday… in the snow, political encounters, and tales from the Corps among other things. Bill will be remembered for his zest for good conversation, crystal blue twinkly eyes that almost always had a tint of mischievousness, almost always wearing a cowboy hat (following a friends advice that you should never clean your hat because it gives you character) with a bolo tie around his neck and cowboy boots, and his wonderful, caring heart.
Bill is survived by his wife of 66 years, Fran, his daughters, Debra (Minneapolis, MN) and Sherrill (Apple Valley, MN), and sons, Michael and David (both Canby, MN), as well as one sister, Marlys Livingston (Minneapolis, MN), and one brother, Ronald Beecher (Gold River, CA), and other dear family and friends, which happily is too expansive of a list to include here.