Earl H. Beistline
1916 - 2012
Lifelong Alaskan Earl H. Beistline, died peacefully Friday evening, Dec. 14, 2012, at the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home where he had resided for the past five years. He was 96 years old.
Earl was born Nov. 24, 1916, in Juneau, the first child of Alaska pioneers Ralph and Catherine Beistline. He was raised in Juneau with his sister, Helen (Meacham Saarela), and worked summers at the Alaska Juneau Mining Company where his father was one of the mine managers.
In 1934, just out of high school, Earl traveled to Fairbanks to enroll in the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines.  There he made many lifelong friends and was active in academic, social and sporting activities. In 1939, he served as president of the student body. He worked summers for mining companies in the Interior, driving steam points and working on dredges.
In 1939, Earl received a five-year degree in mining engineering. In 1947, he received a professional engineer of mines degree. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1969 from the University of Alaska.
After graduating from college, Earl worked for the Fairbanks Exploration (F.E.) Company on surveying and clean-up crews and was the mill foreman at the company's small lode mine at the head of Fairbanks Creek when World War II called him to duty.
Earl had taken a correspondence course that allowed him to become an officer in the Alaska National Guard, 297th Infantry Company, which was activated before the beginning of WW II. He was soon recruited to serve in the 890th Chemical Company, part of the 11th Air Force, serving throughout the Aleutians. 
He later was assigned to the Headquarters Squadron of the 23rd Service Group at Adak, and also served at Nome and Elmendorf Air Force bases. He had travel orders to China when the war ended. He was discharged as a major after four years of military service.
After the war, while waiting for the mining season to begin, Earl worked for the Territorial Department of Mines as a mineral assayer on the Fairbanks campus where he lived with his friend, Ivar Skarland, in the Rainy House. 
When the mining instructor unexpectedly resigned, Earl was asked to teach the mining classes. Thus began his 36-year career as an educator with the university. He loved to teach. Earl became dean of the school of mines in 1949 and served as provost of the northern region and academic vice-president, among other positions, until his retirement in 1982.
After retirement from the university, Earl mined with his friend and partner, Doug Colp, on Eagle Creek and other creeks in the Central Mining District and ran an independent mining consulting business. Earl was named Alaska Business Leader of the year and was inducted into the National and Alaska Miners Hall of Fame. 
He served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Foundation and the board of directors of Usibelli Coal Mine. Earl continued working as a miner and consultant until he was 90 years old. 
He remained active in the community through Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, the Alaska Miners Association and Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo No. 4.
In 1946 Earl met and married a Fairbanks girl, the reigning Winter Carnival Queen and fourth generation Alaskan, Dorothy Hering. They were married for 50 years when Dorothy passed away in 1996. They raised four children.
Earl received many awards and honors for his professional achievements, statewide and nationally, and for his many community activities, but he said he was most proud of his family.
He leaves behind, his sons, Ralph (Peggy) Beistline and Bill (Marcie) Beistline; and his daughters, Kathy (John) Nussbaumer and Lynda (Tom) Swisher; 13 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; and nephews in Alaska (Bettisworth) and Washington (Meacham). 
He has given them a wonderful legacy and an example of integrity, service, hard work, commitment and cheerful optimism. He will be greatly missed and always remembered.
The family expresses gratitude and appreciation for the attentive health care providers and caring staff of the Pioneers' Home.
A memorial service will take place at 1 p.m. Dec. 29, 2012, at University Community Presbyterian Church, 3510 College Road. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home.
Contributions in Earl's name can be made to the Dorothy Beistline Memorial Garden at the University of Alaska Foundation, P.O. Box 755080, Fairbanks, AK 99775; or to the Midnight Sun Council Boy Scouts of America Memorial Fund, 1400 Gillam Way, Fairbanks, AK 99701.
Published by Daily News-Miner on Dec. 20, 2012.
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26 Entries
Dean Beistline was my mining law and placer valuation professor, arranged a scholarship for me through the Alaska Miners Association, which I thanked him dearly for. His spot exams were not so spot, you expected them, every class. Always kept us on our toes. He panned for gold in class wearing a suit, sleeves rolled up lecturing like nothing was going on. He meticulously panned down a bucket in 15 minutes and showed us the rim of gold. He passed around a one ounce vial to illustrate what an ounce of gold looked like. Many students had tried to unwrap the tape around the vial but it was to their own no good. Earl was a keeper of goods and a guardian of the Public Trust, a man of outstanding character, let his students prospect his claims at Central and keep what they found. A state geologist Karen Clautice found a dime sized nugget with her Swiss Army knife in a dozer cut the Dean made and allowed her to keep it. My field partner Jeff who works at GVEA now and I hurriedly tried ground sluicing by the five gallon bucket and we gave Dean a 5% cut. It was expected. You are still with me Earl, you always will be.
Pete Rutledge
January 19, 2013
My family and I send our deepest condolences to the Beistline family. I will always remember him as a great teacher, Dean and mining advocate.
Jim Oliver
January 18, 2013
Ralph, Bill, Kathy, Lynda and your families,

We are sorry for the loss of your father, yet we know Earl was not totally with us these past few years and is now again with Dorothy! That in itself is a blessing.

I considered your total family close friends of mine since 1963. For years I worked with Earl taking visitors through the Permafrost Tunnel. In fact, did so many such tours that you Dad once told me,”Ruth, you do more tours here than I do. Why don't you just take over?”

Thanks Earl, but NO thanks! There is no way any one could ever fill Earl's shoes! I will always remember his vast knowledge, his smile, his gentleness and always a gentleman!

We say good bye to another great Alaskan who has crossed the last great divide. He will be greatly missed by me and many others across our state and country. You will have many, many pleasant memories of your Dad and his history to treasure. [I hope you kids will write a story of his life, at least for your children and grandchild ... and a copy me too?]

With my love and “warm fuzzies” to you all,
Ruth Jolly Knapman
Ruth Jolly Knapman
January 11, 2013
The legacy of Earl will surely include his wonderful, cheerful attitude about life and the true warmth of his smile. Our love and prayers to the entire family. May God add a measure of peace as you grieve this outstanding Alaskan!
Jeanette Wrede
January 10, 2013
I was one of many that were fortunate to know Earl Beistline. A great person, leader, teacher, mentor, and inspiration. His legacy will be long-lasting in The Great Land. Earl made an indelible mark on many people and was very influential in the formative years for the State of Alaska. Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends. May you be blessed with many fond memories.
Bill Brophy
December 26, 2012
I'm so sorry for your loss. Your dad was one of my favorites at FPH and I just loved to watch him with the great grand babies. Seeing them always delighted him. He will be missed.
Laura Saunders
December 26, 2012
I only met Earl once in Bill's office, but I was greatly impressed by his wit and care for his family. Helen and I express our condolences to the family.
Layne Stark
December 23, 2012
Condolences to all the Beistline Family. Not much to say sorry can't make it to services Dan Nielsen in Islands.
December 23, 2012
Beistline's....I am so sorry to hear about Earl. What a great guy. What a great generation. You were so lucky to have him and your mom. May God be with you this season and always.

Bari Evans Hite
December 22, 2012
Condolences to the incredible Beistline family. Ralph and Peggy were high school chums as well as John and Kathy. Earl and Dorothy were also good friends of my parents. The end of an era, another great Alaskan goes around the bend.
Robert Krize
December 22, 2012
Such a wonderful man and a wonderful life! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time. God Bless you all.
Sheila McCumby
December 21, 2012
Such a warm, loving, kind person. I feel fortunate to have known Earl and my father respected and loved him. Love and sympathy to Earl's family and friends.
Karen Porter Holt
December 21, 2012
Our condolenses to the Beistline family during this difficult time! While I didn't meet Earl, I have heard many kind words spoken about him and you must be very proud to have had him in your lives.
Suzie and Gary (Beall) Moore
December 21, 2012
I shall always remember Earl with a smile on his face and with optimism that wouldn't stop! I'm sure there are hundreds of stories his many friends have about him but I will never forget his rapport with children that I experienced: It was probably about 52 years ago that a very popular fourth grade teacher at the then new University Park School left her position after the holidays when her husband was killed in a plane crash. Her students were grieving over the loss of their favorite teacher. I was teaching general music part-time at U. Park that year. With this turn of events for those fourth graders, I was asked to step in to fill her shoes.

That was a huge challenge for me, and I immediately realized that I needed to do some creative thinking to help these children 'heal'. (No counselor s in the schools in those days.). One of those fourth graders was Ralph Beistline -- an energetic, likable and intelligent kid! I had become acquainted with his Dad and I thought it would be fun to invite Mr. Beistline to come to our classroom as a guest lecturer! So we prepared for his visit by doing a little research about mining and minerals. -- fun for the kids to do because so many kids love rocks -- and Mr. Beistline was a class hit and his visit led to healing for those kids. They never forgot Mr. Beistline and all the rocks and great stories he brought to school that day! RALPH, BILL, KATHY and LYNDA: Your Dad will go down as one of the greatest citizens that Alaska as ever had!
Jo Ryman Scott now living in Manhattan
December 21, 2012
C Wease
December 20, 2012
I wish to extend to you and to members of your family my deepest sympathy on your loss. May the Lord's loving promises comfort you and give you strength as you walk through this difficult time. On behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one. (If you wish a personalized memorial card mailed to you with history of playing of taps, 21 gun salute, meaning of each fold of the flag as a keepsake, Send for request to: Chaplain Richard Reuer, Honoring Those Who Served Ministry, 1206 6th St SW, Minot, ND 58701 or click on “CONTACT ME” to email me your mailing address.) (This service is free to all veteran families). Thank you for your serving from one veteran to another – Thanks!
Chaplain Richard Reuer
December 20, 2012
Earl was just a nice man, and I heard that from other faculty when I worked there. It was a pleasure to know him. He contributed much to Alaska as Dean.
Jay D. McKendrick
December 20, 2012
My mom and dad, Bill and Violet O'Neill, were good friends with your parents. They were highly respected and liked. I am sorry for your loss. I would like to think they are having a good 'gab-fest' in heaven. God Bless.
Maureen O'Neill
December 20, 2012
Dr. Beistline gave 10 years of wise and steady counsel and service as a member of the board of directors of Tri-Valley Corporation during a time of tumult in the petroleum and mineral industry. He always responded positively to challenges and offered equitable solutions. He was an outstanding human being.
Lynn Blystone, retired CEO of Tri-Valley, Bakersfield, Calif.
December 20, 2012
So sorry to hear about your loss. May God bless your family as you journey through this loss in your lives.
Barbara Boggess Schneider
December 20, 2012
Peggy and family Earl will be missed by many. Those we love don't go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near, so loved, so missed, so very dear.
Donell Cole (Ebadpour)
December 20, 2012
I had the good fortune to work on several hard rock mining projects with Earl over the years and found him to be a most remarkable man whom I admire greatly. God Bless Earl and all of the fine family he leaves behind. Ed Armstrong, presently in Singapore
December 20, 2012
Earl was my Dean in the School of Mines from 1960-65. He was one of the kindest and nicest people imaginable.
Marvin Andresen
December 20, 2012
Earl was a good friend and inspiration to all he met. My thoughts and prayers are with the family
Phil Younker Sr
December 20, 2012
Dean Beistline was a mentor to so many of us at the school of mines....his door was always open and he became a postive influence in every students life during their time at the univ. and for all the years that followed....
December 20, 2012
Earl was a great friend and History teacher.
Eael and George O'leary were the best friends.
I will miss both.
George Hiller
December 20, 2012
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