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Alice Rankin Beard

Alice Rankin Beard April 9, 1915 - February 1, 2013 Alice Rankin Beard, was a third generation California cattle rancher born in Isabella, California in 1915 to Walker and Mary Rankin. She and her younger sister, Raechel, grew up learning the cattle industry on the Bloomfield Ranch in Southfork. As youngsters, they loved visiting their grandparents, Walker and Lavinia Rankin, at their ranch just over the mountain in Walker Basin. They would meet up with their cousins, Leroy and Billy, sons of Lee and Julia Rankin, and always manage to get into a little mischief. Alice had fond memories of her grandmother, "Nana," (Lavinia Lightner Rankin) and her stories of the family's covered wagon trip to California in 1849. The Lightner family settled in Walker Basin in 1858, and Alice's grandfather, Walker Rankin Sr. founded Rankin Ranch in 1863. Alice and Raechel were always captivated by their grandmother's childhood tales of the Indians in the Basin, the occasional visits from bandits, and the Union soldiers passing through on their way to Fort Independence during the Civil War years. This was "early day life" in the history of California. A one room school house in Southfork served as the beginning of Alice's education, and after moving to Bakersfield during her teen years, she graduated from Kern Union High School (now Bakersfield High) in 1933. It was there she was encouraged by Ruth Hyle Emerson to try her hand at drawing and painting. Alice was a "natural". Alice attended Bakersfield College, and graduated from UCLA in 1939. She then returned to Bakersfield where she taught Physical and Health Education at Bakersfield High. In 1941, she met the love of her life, 1st Lieutenant Robert Beard who was serving in the United States Air Force during WWII. They were married in Walker Basin on August 16th that year. In 1946, they settled in the Basin on the family cattle ranch, built an adobe house, and raised their four children. A business opportunity presented itself in 1970, and for the next 25 years Alice and Bob ran the Double U Cattle Ranch in Texas, just east of El Paso. Although Alice had no formal education in art, her love for painting led her to many workshops conducted by prominent artists. Alice's love for nature, and her "country" lifestyle is conveyed in many of her works of art which have won recognition in numerous shows in El Paso, and hangs in commercial and private collections in Texas and California. Alice and Bob retired and returned to California in 1995, and lived at the Lightner Ranch. Their son Rob owns and operates the Texas ranch while their son John runs the California ranch. Their son Walker is a land appraiser in El Paso, and their daughter, Mary Lou lives and teaches in Bakersfield. In November of 1996, Bob lost his battle with emphysema, and Alice continued to live on the ranch until her death on February 1, 2013. Ninety seven year old Alice painted what delighted her, and in turn she hoped that it would bring pleasure to others. She painted until two days before she passed. In addition to her love for art, she had many other interests. She was a member of the Kern County CattleWomen, and she proudly accepted the honor of Cowbelle of the Year in 1999. She was currently an active member of the Kern River Valley Historical Society, Golden Girls of the Kern River Valley, the Nuui Cunni Indian Cultural Center, Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield High Golden Girls, P.E.O. Sisterhood, Pi Beta Phi Sorority, and twice a mouth she played bridge with two groups! Alice is survived by her four children - Rob Roy Beard and wife Marianne; son John Beard and wife Patty; son Walker Beard and wife Stephanie; and daughter Mary Lou Killebrew and husband Tom; grandchildren Daniel Beard and wife Jakie, Lindsay Riezebos and husband Jeff, J.W. Beard and wife Anita, David Beard and wife Cammy, Walker Beard, Patrick and Kathryn Killebrew; great grandchildren James, Isaac, Hannah, Aidan, Warren, Joseph, Stella, and John. There will be a viewing on Saturday, February 16th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Doughty - Calhoun -O'Meara. A celebration of life will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 17th at Alice Beard's home in Walker Basin to remember this extraordinary woman's life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shriners Hospital for Children-Galveston, 815 Market Street, Galveston, TX 77550. DOUGHTY-CALHOUN-O'MEARA FUNERAL DIRECTORS

Published in El Paso Times from Feb. 6 to Feb. 23, 2013
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