Joseph Beach

  • "I was the secretary at Southern Elementary School when it..."
  • "Mr Beach tolerated my bad Bass Viol playing and rebellious..."
    - Joell Finney
  • "What a man!! He's responsible for my love of choral music..."
    - Gerry Hieronymus

Joseph Morell (Joe) Beach died on June 22, 2019, at age 100, after a full, creative life as teacher, musician, choirmaster, carpenter, luthier, husband, father, grandfather, and inspiration to all who knew him. He also had one fantastic vegetable garden. He is survived by son Larry Beach (Carol) and daughter Eva Beach Ching (Carl), four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Virginia Louise Casey Beach (2001), of Shelbyville, his brother Richard Beach, and his devoted sister Eva Katherine Beach Touster.

As a legacy, "Mr. Beach" leaves a multitude of professional and lay musicians who continue his life's work of spreading the joy of music. Former students refer to him as "Our Mr. Holland". He also leaves an immense collection of fine wood art, everything from large furniture pieces to the most delicate inlay, along with tons of games and puzzles, much of it given to friends and family.

Joe was born in Paducah, Kentucky, to Joseph Hill and Louise Williams Beach. He received a BA in Music from Murray State College and a Master's in Music from the Cincinnati Conservatory. While teaching in the Shelby County Schools, he played viola in the Louisville Orchestra under Robert Whitney. His professional life was interrupted by service in the Marines, Pacific Theater, during WW II. When he returned to Shelbyville, he began creating string programs in several Shelby County schools, designing half-time shows for the Shelby County High School marching band, directing the choir at First Baptist Church and setting up a repair shop for stringed instruments. He also assembled and conducted an annual community Messiah performance composed of many of the Shelby County church choirs.

In 1952, the family moved to Lexington, where Joe and fellow musician Joe Pival began building a first-class string program for the Fayette County public schools. They trained many young music teachers to sustain those programs and taught generations of kids to love music, and to pass it on.

He will be missed.
Published in The Sentinel-News on July 3, 2019
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