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David Beery

1931 - 2019
David Beery Obituary
David Vernon Beery

October 30, 1931 - April 22, 2019

David Vernon Beery passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on April 22, 2019. He was a young and vibrate 87, who modeled the adage: "80 is the new 60." Friends and family consider his passing a true tragedy. Some would say and it would be true that David lived a full life; but he was not done living. He lived for various experiences most significantly travel. He and his husband, Norm, had plans to share experiences visiting Egypt, Jordan and Israel this October and sailing next summer for three-months from NYC to Europe and back. The highlight was to be sailing above the Arctic Circle and Scandinavia to Murmansk, Russian.
David was born in Corvallis, Oregon to Don Vernon Beery and Emily Catherine Smith. His mother died shortly after David's birth. As a baby, he lived with his cousin, Donna and her sisters. Donna was only a few years older than David who was the brother these girls never had. David's father remarried in 1933 to Hazel Mary "Chappie" Chapman, a Registered Nurse. David then went to live with Don and Hazel, who was the only mother he would ever know. David grew up in Corvallis graduating from Corvallis High School in 1949 and where he was a member of Boy Scout Troop 1 and earned Star Scout.
He started his higher education in pre-law at Willamette, University in Salem, Oregon. He then attended the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon where he earned his B.A (with honors) and his M.A in English. While at the University of Oregon, David served in the Army National Guard of Oregon as a Company Clerk. He then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he would remain for the rest of his life. He attended UC Berkeley and earned a General Secondary Credential (English and Sociology). While at UC, he worked for Pierce Freight Lines. He never failed to tell people that he was a card-carrying member of the Teamster Union and he didn't know where Hoffa was buried.
After UC, he started his career in education in 1960 at San Ramon Valley High School where he taught English for 15 years. Education became his life long passion. While in England on several sabbaticals, he would develop new class materials from an extensive slide collection from his travels around the United Kingdom. In 1974, David perceived the need to deal with death openly and devised a semester class in English entitled, "Death, Be Not Proud." The course title was based on a work from John Donne, an English poet of course. That first year, 65 students filled up two sections. An extensive article about this class was published in The Valley Pioneer, October 30, 1974.
In 1977, he started his next chapter in education as Assistant Principal of San Ramon Valley High School. After 4 years, he decided he wanted to be an Elementary School Principal. So, he taught Grades 3 and 5 for 3 years before becoming principal of Walt Disney Elementary School. He was dearly loved by students and teachers, some of who continued to remain friends for life. He retired in June 1989 from the SRVUSD after 29 years. During his teaching career, he taught multi-generations of many families; some of those students even became colleagues. After retirement, he continued in education, becoming an Assistant Principal and interim principal at Valley View Elementary in the Pleasanton. During his time there, he also became a mentor to new principals helping them to develop the skills needed for the role.
It's important to remember that David's career in education included the time of the 1978 Briggs Initiative which would have banned LGBT teachers and administrators from working in California's public schools. While David was discrete about his personal life, many of his close friends in education knew that he was gay. If it had passed, the initiative would have cost students' great educators like David.
In 1965, David met the love of his life Jack Redford. David and Jack could not be more different. While David was refined and had the "cultural finesse and social reserve" he presumed to be important, Jack was a "gauche man." David came to ignore Jack's "brashness and appreciate the richness of Jack's open spirit, his kindness, his ready and unswerving friendship, his quick willingness to help others, his ability to create baroque tales from ordinary experiences." Jack was a builder and he and David formed a real estate investment partnership. Through that partnership, David and Jack were able to afford their world-wide travels. Those travels frequently included David's father and mother. David always gave credit to Jack for his financial health. Jack preceded David in death in 1994. (Much of this paragraph was taken from David's "Memories About Jack," May 27,1995.)
In 2003, David met the next love of his life, Norm Abramson, and they married in 2008 when same sex marriage became legal in California and before Prop 8. After retiring a second time in 2006, David was still not ready for a rocking chair. He changed his focus to travel and the arts. David had traveled all over the world with Jack. With Norm, they visited Australia, Kenya on a honeymoon safari, China and Tibet, Southeast Asia, Japan (David didn't hesitate to sample any of the Japanese dishes placed in front of him), and South America on a 72-day cruise which circumnavigated the continent. Every other year, they would spend 2 months somewhere in Europe always returning to the British Isles where David used to visit on this teaching sabbaticals. He made life-long friends wherever he traveled.
David continued to collect art locally and world-wide. He was interested in all forms of art: Paintings, old photographs, Russian Lacquer Boxes, sculpture and glass. He and his husband were supporters of the performing arts: Theater, opera and dance. David was an original subscriber to ACT and Berkeley Rep. They also supported the SF Opera, the SF Ballet and the Joe Goode Performance Group. David was on the board of The New Conservatory Theater Center. Norm is on the boards of the ACT MFA program and West Edge Opera. David and Norm also enjoyed sharing the experience of fine dining locally and internationally.
David is survived by his husband Norman Abramson and by Norman's daughter Leah Abramson, who became very close to David. David is also survived by his many cousins in Oregon including Donna Brokken, his "big sister" from 1931.
At David's request, David was cremated, and his ashes scattered on the Bay from the Neptune Society boat. The scattering was attended by a few close friends and family. Also, at his request, David did not want a memorial service but a party instead. Every 5 years, on his birthday, David would throw himself a special Birthday Party. His last was on his 85th cruising the bay on the USS Potomac. To celebrate David life, a party is being planned for his 88th birthday.
David can be remembered with a donation to The New Conservatory Theater Center. (www.nctcsf.org).
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Aug. 25, 2019
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