Mary L. Beeson
Mary L. Beeson died peacefully at home in Palm Springs on September 27, 2015, after having completed a well-lived life. She had lived in Palm Springs full-time since 2011 and part-time since 2002. Before that, she had lived in Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Chicago, Tampa (FL), New York City, North Dakota, Nepal, Borneo, and Hartford City, Indiana. She traveled extensively, visiting every continent except Antarctica and Australia. She particularly loved Mexico and spent time in Oaxaca whenever she could. Mary was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Earl and Mary Elizabeth Beeson on September 21, 1943. Although she spent her early years in Hartford City, Indiana, the family moved to Chicago's South Side before Mary started elementary school. She was the first member of her family to go to college, attending the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois. After graduating, she surprised her family by announcing she was joining the Peace Corps. After a training period in Hawaii, she lived on Borneo for two years, working as a teacher. Her days of traveling and service had begun. Upon leaving the Peace Corps, Mary taught for six weeks in Thailand, then lived in Katmandu for a while before returning to the United States to earn her master's in teaching from Columbia University in New York City. After receiving her master's, she moved to North Dakota to teach school on an Indian reservation. While in the Peace Corps, she had begun corresponding with a soldier in Viet Nam, Daniel Mannix. They moved to Florida together, where they were married in 1974, In Florida, Mary taught at an alternative girls' high school and worked to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. The marriage ended several years later. Mary decided to return to Chicago and began working as a paralegal. Realizing that she was as smart as the lawyers she worked for, Mary went to law school, graduating from Northwestern University's School of Law in 1982. She accepted a position at a large private law firm in Chicago. In 1984, she met Edith D. Balbach; their relationship lasted until Mary's death. They were married in 2004, when Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay marriage. In addition to being life partners, Edith and Mary were best friends for their 31 years together. In 1987, Mary was ready to move again. Having vacationed in San Francisco, she was interested in living there, which also made it possible for Edith to pursue her PhD at Berkeley. In the Bay Area, Mary initially worked at another large private law firm, but was not happy with the work. She eventually began working in the law department of San Jose's Redevelopment Agency. When she retired from the Agency in 2000, she was head of the law department. While there, she supported efforts to build the Children's Discovery Museum, the Repertory Theatre, and other projects that she felt made a difference to those who lived in San Jose. After retiring, Mary lived in the Boston area where Edith was teaching. Unhappy with winter living, they bought a condominium in Palm Springs, where Mary spent much of the winter, while Edith commuted. Edith retired in 2013 and was able to spend Mary's last two years with her full-time. Mary was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers, Jack and William. She is survived by Edith and her niece, Lisa DiSalvo. A gathering to celebrate Mary's life will be held after the first of the year.
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Published by The Desert Sun on Oct. 7, 2015.