Dick “Shorty” Beach
RICHARD ALAN BEACH
19 NOV 1946 Los Angeles - 13 APR 1996 Inyo
by Tom Betts with input from Lucien Plauzoles, Margie Buckingham and Peter Stekel
What can I say about a friend with so much history and impact on our lives?
I first met Dick when I joined the Wolverton Staff in 1964. Dick was already a legend in Boy Scout History.
He was a gentile giant – I remember him at a thin six foot six.
He and his close family were from Mar Vista – He graduated from Venice High School when I completed school in Pacific Palisades. He and his family lived on Navy Street, in a warm family house – With a Sequoia planted years back by his father – The Beach Family was totally Sequoia!
He always had a smile and was our Teacher.
“Shorty” as he was so tall, was our only real “Mountain Man” at camp.
Dick was a student at Santa Monica City College when I was – He always came to the college two hours early to park his Primo Car, “CAPTAIN AMERICA – a primo All Black, polished up, Olsmobile Toronado, Front wheel drive 427 cubic-inch V-8 Monster, Best Car at Santa Monica City College. Always parked in the Number One Slot in Lot Number One – Dick was always in the primo spot with his car!
Peanut Butter – Dick would eat a ton of it! Peanut Butter was his primary snack often with a full watermelon. Dick could also cook up anything in a stone oven up at 10,000 feet!
Hiking in the Sierra – You try to keep up with a Dick Beach who is that tall! I tried once when we were out on the trail.
Mountain Climbing – When we were out in the backcountry, we would go fishing – Dick would go out and “Bag a peak.”
ART- Dick Beach was a superb artist – Look at his sketch of The Shower House or the Ship!
Nature – The National Park Rangers would always stop and listen to our Shorty Beach on the real Nature on the Sequoia National Park!
Flora and Fauna – Yes, we all had our copy of the Natural History of the Sierra Nevada; but, only Dick Beach really knew what it was all about – But, he still tried to point out the Sierra Purple Flower and such.
California Early History – Dick was an expert.
Biology, Science, and such Science – Dick became the top High School Teacher at Bishop High School. I know as I met a hundred of his loyal students when I attended his funeral in Bishop. Dick was a Fave Teacher while at Bishop H.S.
Stoves – Dick had a side-hobby of collecting old early California stoves in the early California areas.
Shorty was our friend and pal – teacher – packer – and guy who told us where it was at and how to get there.
We miss you, Dick (Shorty), you will always be a Wolverton Staff Packer. Our friend, and Teacher.
Shorty is still well-remembered in Bishop. I have spoken to many people in the area for my book research and they all have good stories to tell about Dick and his love of the mountains. I recently learned he was a friend of famous mountaineer Norman Clyde and used to spend a lot of time with the self-styled "Old Duffer" when Clyde was too old and sick and unable to hike or climb anymore. To me that suggests a huge amount of loyalty. -P.S.
From what I remember Dick saying, the Norman Clyde relationship was started by his (DB's) father who had climbed with N Clyde.
BTW, I recently saw an article about a Norman Clyde photo exhibit in Bishop but was not able to stop on our way back from Oregon. -L.P.
Norman Clyde Article Link
Dick Beach is still alive in the life of his students! We had our “flood” this past July and the lead of the “restoration crew” had attended Bishop High and Dick was his teacher for several years. His mom worked for the school district and knew Dick well. Dick was/is as alive and an inspiration to his students and friends in Bishop as he was/is to each of us. -M.B.
More from Tom
Sierra Club Cup: We all got one, cuz Dick said cool Sierra Water tasted better with one. I still have mine. It is flat.
BB-4 Pack: Kelty made a lot; but, mine was just like the one that Dick Beach used - I got it cuz I wanted to be just like him.
Feather vs Down Bag: When I froze by butt off on the first Silver Bearpaw hike; I got one, just like Shorty.
Peanut Butter: You can never get enough.
Lederhosen: Even in the 60's, what kind of teenager would get caught dead traipsing in the Tablelands in lederhosen?
Bavarian Hat: Yeh, I went to Germany with my Mom in 1964, just to get a Bavarian Hat - with pins - so, I could be just like Shorty.
Dutch Oven: He could make Cobler with one - not me, it always turned into burned mush.
Anger: Dick was lousy at it. He tried, but without much experience at it, he failed. He could not do well at getting mad at anyone! I saw him try and try to get pissed off once, but he just couldn't get it going. He was a fool when it came to being angry. He never got good at it. And that was a good thing. He was a total failure at getting angry at anyone! - Sounds like a GOOD GUY, eh? Our friend.
Girl Scouts: He and Ken Sleeper took the Girl Scouts on canoe trip on the Colorado River - Girls were Julie Bell, Margie Buckingham, Janis Nitta, Sue Glass and many more. They never peeked! Dick was A Good Guy! I have photos that they got from the trip - good girls in swim suits.
Ruthy, Ruthy: What can I say: The Grand Tetons. And he was focused. They were there and they were in front. Thanks, Ruth. We always appreciated.