Rex James Beech was born June 8th, 1931, in Sleepy Eye, MN, to Alfred and Elsie (McNall) Beech. He attended public school in Sleepy Eye where he was active in vocal music, yearbook staff, student council, and gymnastics, and graduated in 1949. He enlisted in the US Army and was stationed at Fort Dix, NJ, as a corporal in the Signal Corps, serving two years as a telephone and teletype repairman during the Korean conflict. He became part of the family business, Beech Electric, specializing in retail sales. He later sold real estate and operated two other businesses in Sleepy Eye, - Beech Clothing, and Furniture Gallery - and was active in the Chamber of Commerce. Working on Main Street and being part of the business community was an integral part of Rex’s identity. That work and the relationships associated with it gave him deep satisfaction. Even as he turned 87, he was still happy and grateful that he could get up every day and go to work at Mark Thomas, Co, in Sleepy Eye. In 1960 he married Judith Geschwind of Sleepy Eye. They raised four children there and shared 55 loving years together. Rex’s deep love for his family was expressed through love, support, affirmation, and humor. He and Judy cherished the time they spent with their grandchildren. Throughout his life, Rex had many diverse interests. As a young man, he and his friends built and flew model airplanes. They also enjoyed water skiing, and built a ski jump on Sleepy Eye Lake. Over the years his hobbies included raising show pigeons, photography, golf, gardening, fish ponds, bird watching, and decorating gourds. He loved to sing, was an avid reader, a faithful supporter of the high school athletic teams in Sleepy Eye, and a passionate, die-hard Vikings fan. Rex was very involved in the leadership of the Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club of America, and was considered the foremost authority on the history of the Sleepy Eye Milling Company and the collectibles associated with it. Along with many local club members, he and Judy helped organize and host the conventions when they were held in Sleepy Eye, and led tours of the mill site. His Christian faith was of utmost importance to him, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye was central to that. He worked in various leadership and planning positions, sang in the choir, and joyfully served as a confirmation mentor to many young people. In the later part of his life, Rex embraced his natural gift of hospitality by greeting, welcoming, hugging, and teasing those who came to worship, always on the lookout for children and visitors. After the passing of his wife, Judy, in 2015, that community of faith provided amazing love and care for him.
Rex died unexpectedly on Friday, November 23rd, at Sleepy Eye Medical Center from complications associated with a head injury he suffered during a fall. He was 87 years old. He is survived by four children and nine grandchildren; son, Jay (Cheryl) of Minneapolis, MN, and children Alison (Zachary Gingerich) and Adam; daughter, Young Sil Kim Allgor of Cottage Grove, MN, and children, Krista and Rachel Allgor; son, Gregory (Adderly) of Ashland OR, and children, Breana (Ross) Sevilla, Graham Beech, Julian and Paul Beech; daughter, Linda (Christopher Beech-Peterson) of La Porte City, IA, and daughter, Olivia Beech-Peterson; brother, Robert; sister-in-law, Lynnette Geschwind; and many nieces and nephews; AFS foreign exchange student, Pedro Gallardo Munizaga; loving companion, Graziela Correa de Costa; and friends too numerous to count. He was preceded in death by his wife, Judy, parents, Alfred and Elsie, brother, Richard, sister, Donna Schoephoerster, sisters-in-law, Marlene, Eleanor and Lois, brothers-in-laws, Art Sena and Dennis Schoephoerster, and nephew Kirby Schoephoerster.
There will be two organizations who will receive memorials given in Rex's honor. You may identify either or both of them for your gift. The first is Trinity Lutheran in Sleepy Eye, 217 Brackenridge St. SW, Sleepy Eye, MN 56085. Our family is designating that the money be used as an initial gift towards the creation of an endowment fund, pending church council approval. The other recipient will be Sleepy Eye Area Historical Society - P.O. Box 544, Sleepy Eye, MN 56085.