Samuel "Sam" Gallatin Beal, 90, of Conway, died from complications of infection Friday, June 26, 2013, with his treasured daughters and extended family by his side.
Sam was born March 25, 1923, in Little Rock, where he graduated from Little Rock High School, now Little Rock Central High School, in 1941. After two memorable trips to California, one with his cousin and lifelong best friend, Ros Smith, he underwent naval flight training in 1943 and was designated an aviator in the Marine Air Corps later that same year. On Nov. 27, 1943, Sam married Billie Corinne Shryock, his beloved wife of almost 58 years. He served 30 years in the military, including serving in World War II
, the Korean War
and the Vietnam War
. During his career, he earned the rank of colonel and received distinctions such as the Legion of Merit Medal for Valor, the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal with Silver Star, the Bronze Star
Medal, the Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two Purple Heart medals. He served as an observer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After retiring, he attended classes at the University of Central Arkansas and completed a bachelor's degree in accounting, having had his initial enrollment suspended while serving his country.
The fourth of nine siblings, Samuel Gallatin was affectionately known among his siblings as "Gaggy." Loved ones remember his friendship, hospitality, quick wit, and love of life and laughter. He was an active member of the Lost Chord Club of Central Arkansas, First Baptist Church in Conway, Centennial Country Club and the Conway Country Club. A golf enthusiast and natural athlete, he regularly attended rounds of golf with friends and continued his military "PT" throughout his twilight years with daily runs through his neighborhood, workouts at the Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center and extended solo hikes in the Arkansas Ozarks well into his 80s. Sam had a love for his community. His grandchildren delighted in his impromptu tours of "Beautiful Downtown Conway," which always included a stop at the historic home of "Camama" and "Daddy Smith," Samuel Gallatin Beal and Ellen Grisard Smith, his grandparents. Family and friends fondly recall Sam's love of family holidays, especially "Granddad's Christmas Party," an annual tradition spanning more than three decades. He often regaled loved ones with renditions of "Ramblin' Rose," and "I Did It My Way," "Everybody Loves Somebody" and other Rat Pack favorites.
He is preceded in death by his father, Robert Knott Beal; his mother, Leila Ellen Smith Beal; wife Billie Shryock Beal; sisters Leila Beal Bevensee, Medora Beal Grissom, Lenora Beal Lefever and Elizabeth Beal Mayhew; and son James Gallatin Beal. He is survived by brothers Joseph Turner Beal, of Kettering, Ohio; Robert Knott Beal Jr., of Little Rock; and James Harrison Beal of San Marcos, Calif.; sister Catherine Ruth Beal Erickson, of Des Moines, Iowa; cousin Samuel Theodore "Ros" Smith Jr., of Conway; daughters Karen Elaine Beal Gardner and Anne Elizabeth Beal Lasowski; grandchildren Natalie Ghidotti, Becca Green, Matthew Gardner, Jessie Beal, Brandon Lasowski, Jonathan Gardner, Ashley Wilson and Jennifer Lasowski; great-grandchildren Nathan Ghidotti, Corinne Ghidotti, Noah Lasowski and Landon Lasowski; and cherished friend Kay Mayes.
A visitation will be held at the Roller McNutt Funeral Home, 801 8th Ave., Conway, AR, 72032, Tuesday, July 30, 6-8 p.m. A celebration of Sam's life, officiated by Dr. Dale Wicker, will be held Wednesday, July 31, 1 p.m., also at the Roller McNutt Funeral Home in Conway. He will be interred alongside wife Billie, at Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Conway Regional Health Foundation, 2302 College Ave., Conway, AR 72034 and The First Baptist Church of Conway, 1719 Robinson Ave., Conway, AR 72034.