ILWACO — Marjorie Ruth Beard, 96, of Ilwaco passed away peacefully on Feb. 24, 2023, in her home with family by her side.
Marjorie was born to George and Louise Stolt in 1926 in Odebolt, Iowa, where the family had a large dairy farm.
In 1934, as drought hit Iowa during the Great Depression, the family pulled up stakes and moved first to Centralia and then to Ridgefield, Washington. Marjorie graduated from Richfield High School in 1944, and in 1948, graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. At the university, Marjorie became a member and officer of Delta Zeta Sorority. After graduation she began her student teaching at Meridian High School in Whatcom County where she met Nathan (Toby) Beard. The couple were married in 1950. Their honeymoon was interrupted by a job offer from the Washington Department of Fisheries so they gassed up the car and drove all night in order to let Toby report for work the next morning.
For the next 44 years, the couple remained on the peninsula. Marjorie taught school at Ilwaco High School and Toby worked as a state fisheries inspector for 25 years. After Toby’s retirement he served on the Ilwaco City Council and then was elected Mayor of Ilwaco until his death in 1994. Marjorie is survived by her sons Mark Beard, James Beard, daughters in-law Leta Beard and Barbara Beard, grandchildren Nathan, Lauren, Milan, and Allison and their spouses Amanda, Jimmy, Janin, and Nick, great-grandchildren Cora, Mark, Jones, and newborn Jamie, Marjorie’s’ only sibling, Dorothy Stolt Graves of Waddy, Kentucky, and her children, Anita Louise, Amy, Johnny and Bradley. Marjorie also is survived by her brother in-law Milan Beard of Emerson, Washington, and nieces Becky Foster, Maxine Nichols, Susan Deluca, Vicki Pressler, Jackie Edge, Anita Beard, and nephews Jeff, Bruce, Ross, John, and Gary Beard, Brian and Tim Morris, and Dexter McCullough. Finally, Marjorie also is survived by several generations of Ilwaco High School students.
Marjorie taught at Ilwaco High School for 42 years. She started out teaching home economics, English, and P.E., and acted as the high school’s librarian. As the library grew from behind the old auditorium to the new standalone facility and with the consolidation of the school districts, she became District Librarian. During this time, she also served as Pep Club and Cheerleader Advisor, Senior Class Advisor, National Honor Society Advisor, and advisor to the Golden I and the Breakers. Countless hours were spent riding rooter buses to away football and basketball games, chaperoning class field trips, and decorating the American Legion Hall for dances. Scholarship applications, college admission paperwork, oratory contests, and band fund raisers all fell within her purview. Marjorie’s commitment to helping her students never ceased nor waivered. Through the years, Marjorie influenced over 12,000 students.
In addition to teaching and advising on school activities, Marjorie also was a leader in her church and professional organizations and participated in community affairs. She was a member of the Ocean Beach Presbyterian Church and led the primary Sunday school program for seven years without missing a Sunday. She held an active role in Monday Circle and in the Presbyterian Women’s Association. For 50 years, she served on the Peninsula Christian Council, an organization of ministers and laypersons from each of the peninsula’s churches. Annually one of their biggest projects was Baccalaureate of which Marjorie directed for 58 years.
Marjorie belonged to the Order of Rainbow for Girls and was a member of Eastern Star. She considered her time as Mother Advisor in Rainbow as a privilege and a special opportunity to work with girls. She was the organizing secretary of the Washington State School Librarian Association and president of the Pacific County group. Marjorie was president and a charter member of the American Association of University Women in which she was an active member for 60 years. She also was a member of Modern Travelers. A lifelong reader, Marjorie had a passion for books; she liked to read them, talk about them, put them on shelves, and lend them to others. Until covid hit, she belonged to two books clubs which she enjoyed immensely.
As a wife, mother, grandmother and teacher, Marjorie was dedicated to the people in her life. Her life is a testament that individuals can make a difference in the world in which we live.
A memorial service will be held at the Ocean Beach Presbyterian Church, 5000 ‘N’ Place in Seaview, on March 18, 2023, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Ilwaco Sports Boosters — Cheerleading Fund, P.O. Box 908, Ilwaco, WA, 98624. An online guestbook is available at Penttila’s website; www.penttilaschapel.com
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I met Marjorie at our Bunco group. She was such fun and just nice to be around her. We were blessed to have our Christmas Bunco at her beautiful home. Her home was so decorated with trees and all her villages and ornaments. She had a collection of nativities that she loved talking about. She loved talking about her family and going to Seattle for the Holidays. Rest in peace Marjorie.
I graduated in '93. Mrs. Beard had been my mother's teacher and librarian and was my librarian. She had also given me my first job working in the school and district libraries as an assistant while I was a high school student, helping to shelf books, type up memos, and generally clean up the library after the end of the day.
I hat met her before high school, of course, when our family move back to the Peninsula before my fifth grade year start. My mom spent a lot of time volunteering at the little library in Ilwaco, and perforce us kids were with her. Mrs. Beard helped nourish the seeds of inquisitiveness and a love of reading that were still sprouting in a ten-year-old, poor kid.
Without Mrs. Beard, I might not have ever discovered Narnia or Pern or Oz or so many other worlds that shaped my childhood and influenced my development and understanding of myself. As an author now, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Mrs. Beard.
She was truly one of the very best people to have ever walked this green earth.
What a great tribute to her!^ While I never met her, I wished I had.
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