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Monday, April 30, 2012

William M. Beyea, 79

UPDATE (add memorial service details) William (Bill) Minner Beyea of Weston died April 25 in Danbury Hospital after a brief illness. He was 79.

Born in New Rochelle, N.Y. on Jan. 3, 1933, he attended grade school and high school in Pleasantville, N.Y. and graduated from Colgate University in 1955.

He was an accomplished jazz musician, playing numerous reed and woodwind instruments throughout college and traveling to Europe with the Nassau Jazz Band.

For more than 10 years, he played clarinet and saxophone in the Finger Lake Five, a jazz and Dixieland band that opened for Billie Holiday at her final New York City performance, played to an audience of more than 24,000 at the 1958 New York Jazz Festival, performed on the Jerry Lewis Telethon, and recorded a number of records.

He was a frequent guest player at Eddie Condon’s Jazz Club and Jazz at Noon in New York City, and he continued to play locally throughout his life with numerous musicians including Jack Kelly, Jack Duffy, Donald Reilly, Irwin Lebish, Joe Holmes, Barry Baccus, Gene Pino, Jeff Leonard, Eric Emory, and countless others. 

He had forays at Time, Inc. and Newsweek, where he traveled extensively and later at Merrill Lynch and Mass Mutual. 

He spent the last 30 years as an independent insurance agent and financial planner, contributing often to a financial column in the Westport News.

In addition to his love of all things music (especially, jazz, classical and opera), he was one of the early members of Westport’s Cedar Point Yacht Club in the 1960s and loved to spend time sailing and enjoying the unparalleled beauty of the club itself. 

He spent many summers with his family vacationing in Truro on Cape Cod, and loved traveling with his wife throughout Europe over the years. He was also a gourmet cook and connoisseur of fine wines and spirits.

He was an active member of the Wilton Historical Society and a former member of the SAR and the Weston Kiwanis Club.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Gale Ann; his son William (Bill) Martin Beyea and his wife Amy Tyler Beyea of Winston Salem, N.C.; his stepson Walter (Tom) Phillips of Sandy Hook; his stepdaughter, Julie Phillips O’Grady and her husband Martin of Westport; his nephew, Chris Boyd of Charlestown, R.I.; as well as his three grandchildren, Liam O’Grady, Billy Beyea and Emily Beyea; and his great niece Sara Boyd. 

He was predeceased by his parents Archibald and Mary Eleanor Minner Beyea, his stepmother Lucille Baily Beyea, his family housekeeper and spiritual mother Kathie Kucera, his sister Alison Maude Beyea and his first wife, Margaret Morrissey Beyea.

A celebration of his life will be held Friday, May 18, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Cedar Point Yacht Club. 

Harding Funeral Home, Westport, is responsible for arrangements.  For more information or to sign an online guestbook, visit http://hardingfuneral.com .

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Posted 04/30/12 at 05:56 PM  Permalink



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