Beth Harkey Greer
November 7, 1927 - March 18,2013
A long life of adventure, achievement, allure and love passed into history Monday afternoon as Beth Greer died at her home after a long struggle with heart disease. Her husband of 66 years, Frank Greer, was at her side, as were her longtime friends Esperanza Calderon and Nilda Manansala.
The daughter of Willie May Hardwick and Jefferson Burnace Harkey, she was born in Damsite Texas and soon moved to Floy Arizona where she lived on her family's ranch. Her father and grandfather were Texas Rangers, and her father was sheriff of three counties in Arizona. Her sister, Jeffie Greer and she were both Daughters of the American Revolution. She also had an older brother Ray.
She attended primary school in Floy, and it was there she first met her longtime friend and future husband at age 9. After four years of secondary education at St. John's High School, she went to work as an assistant to the principal for $15 a month. She then relocated to Phoenix to be with her sister and to find better work.
In the meantime, Frank had enlisted in the Marine Corps and went off to fight in the Pacific Theater. After receiving a Purple Heart on Iwo Jima, he returned to Arizona to woo his childhood acquaintance. They were married on September 7, 1946 in Gallup New Mexico: The young couple relocated to Orange County California in November of 1946. Prior to their marraige, Frank's brother Harold married Beth's sister Jeffie, and a lifelong relationship between brothers and sisters began.
Frank apprenticed to the carpenter trade, and Beth became a mother on September 24, 1947 to their first daughter, Cathy Marie. As Frank became a contractor, the new family traveled to various locations such as Gallup New Mexico; Alamogordo, New Mexico; Vandenberg AFB in Lompoc, CA; and Tacoma, Washington. As the second child, Rodger Lloyd was born, the family had relocated to Orange County, California, to become premiere homebuilders and commercial builders. Soon after the move, her third child, Sally Ann was born.
Beth attended Santa Ana College for her Associate Arts degree, and then continued on to Cal State Fullerton for her Bachelor's of Arts. She started a course of study to get her Master's degree in Psychology, but withdrew before earning her degree in order to work as chief financial officer in the family construction business. She developed a reputation as an effective administrator and a determined executive.
Beth travelled extensively with her family during these years. She and Frank would fly to Minnesota and La Paz, and would charter boats from San Diego and Mazatlan to fish. She and Frank would camp with the children in Mammoth. She rode a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon while pregnant with Rodger. Other stops on her itinerary were the Bahamas, New Orleans, Mexico City and Jamaica. An accomplished cruiser, she traveled through the Caribbean, Alaska, and the Panama Canal.
Beth was an accomplished bridge and Scrabble player. For a number of years, she maintained a second home in Laughlin Nevada where she was a champion poker player. She loved playing the piano and gardening, taking immense pleasure in the flowers and birds in her backyard. As a philanthropist, she supported the Assistance League of Tustin and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. She had a love for the theater that she passed along to generations of her family. She delighted in the Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays where she could gather her family together and celebrate.
The day before she passed away, she was surrounded by her family at her great grandson's birthday party where her twin great granddaughters, Ella and Zoey, delighted their "makamaka" with their dancing and laughter.
She is survived by her husband Frank and brother Ray: her oldest daughter, Cathy Palmer; Cathy's husband Scott; her granddaughter Tracey Rinard and Tracey's husband Greg; great-grandson Colin Rinard and great - granddaughter Caitlyn Rinard , granddaughter Brynne Palmer; her son Rodger Greer and his wife Dianne; Rodger's son Garret Greer and his wife Stephanie (parents of the twins);. her youngest daughter, Sally Martin, Sally's husband Larry, and her granddaughter Shandra Martin.
Beth left a note to her surviving family, and her last words in the note were an apt epitaph: "Life has been good to me"
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made in her honor to the Assistance League of Tustin.
Services will be held at 1pm on Saturday, March 23rd, at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana.
Published in Orange County Register on March 21, 2013
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