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Obituary of Dr. Donald Beard
Our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather Donald Yeager Beard died of vascular dementia on Monday, November 21, 2022, at home surrounded by his family’s love. He was 88. Our grief is tempered with our greater gratitude and admiration for his long life, so well-lived and so focused on his family and his community of Fort Collins.
Dad was a child of the West, born and raised in Cheyenne, WY in 1934 to pioneer-stock parents Clyde Yeager Beard and Gladys Swanson Beard. In 1952 he headed east -- temporarily -- to Omaha, NE for college and medical school at Creighton University. As a junior at Creighton in 1954, he helped a beautiful incoming transfer student from Colorado put her medical tech class schedule together – and then promptly scheduled himself into all the same courses. Donna Ward of Denver thought it was coincidental, Don Beard thought it was genius – and when their then-teenaged children first heard the story many years later, we thought, “that sly guy was our Dad…?!”.
Don and Donna were married in Denver in 1957, and the quick arrival of four children in six years was interspersed with Dad’s Class of 1959 MD degree from Creighton University, his internship at St Joseph’s Hospital in Denver (1960), his residency in Pediatrics (1962) at The Children’s Hospital in Denver (now Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora), and serving his country in the U.S. Public Health Service as Chief of Pediatrics at the USPHS Indian Hospital in Gallup, New Mexico (1962-64). In 1964, Don and Donna split the difference between their hometowns of Cheyenne and Denver, and made Fort Collins the family homestead, establishing deep roots and lasting connections with many other young families arriving at the same time. Dad was in solo practice for eight years as Fort Collins’ first pediatrician. Joined in the 1970s by Drs. Tom Wera, Jim McGinnis, and Max Elliott, the medical practice Dad established eventually became the Fort Collins Youth Clinic, which continues its care of generations of Fort Collins infants, children, ‘tweens, and teens as The Youth Clinic of Northern Colorado. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a Fellow and Charter Member of the Society of Adolescent Medicine, an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado Medical School, and served Poudre Valley Hospital over the years as Chief of Staff and as Chair of the Credentialing Committee.
Dad devoted himself professionally to the Fort Collins community for decades. His sage and compassionate care of teenagers, children, and infants was widely sought and valued, and in time he took care of those children’s children. In retirement, he loved encountering former patients around town and hearing how his practical approach calmed parents and fostered the next generation. In the interest of children’s dental health, Dad helped lead the effort for fluoridation of the city’s water supply in the mid-1960s; when Poudre High School opened in 1964-65 as Fort Collins’ second high school, ‘Doc Beard’ sat on the bench for many seasons to tend to the Impala football team (while ‘Doc Pike’ tended to the crosstown rival FCHS Lambkins); and, a generation of Fort Collins’ high school students may recall Dr. Beard’s thirty years’ service to Poudre School District unflappably teaching ‘Family Living/Sociology of the Family’ classes at Collins, Rocky, and Poudre. His additional community interests were legion: Fort Collins Symphony season-ticket holder for over 50 years, President of the Board of Directors of the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art (now Museum of Art/Fort Collins), Volunteer Master Naturalist for the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas, and Volunteer for the Larimer County Community Juvenile Justice System, to name just a few.
For a father, we could have asked for no one finer. We loved Dad for so many things: the ‘Old Rex, Wonder Dog’ bedtime stories he would spin off the top of his head for us as little kids whenever we were on a camping or skiing trip in the Rockies; how he chose to make our home just two blocks from his office and Poudre Valley Hospital so that he could be home with us for dinner most nights before making the evening rounds of newborns; how he could name most any Colorado Fourteener by sight from pretty much any angle; the way he choked up whenever the National Anthem played; his patience in teaching us all how to ski as small children (in the era of leather lace-up boots, cable bindings, and rope tows, no less); his entirely reasonable expectations of us as a pack of teenagers, kindly enforcing consequences or thoughtfully pointing out why certain decisions could have been better ones; and, in the next generation, taking the six oldest teenaged grandchildren tent-camping for days, and then telling us, their parents, how delightful and cooperative they all were. Dad was an abundantly positive human being, and lived his Catholic faith quietly, generously, and above all, by example, during his almost sixty years as a member of Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Fort Collins. His lasting gifts to his extended family will remain our enduring memories of his quiet kindness and constant good humor, his wisdom, and above all, his devotion to his wife Donna in their 65 years of marriage. Our profound thanks to you, Dad, for the time you dedicated to your family, and the rich life you gave us.
Cherishing our years with Don Beard are his wife Donna, his children Doreen Beard, Doug Beard, Diane Beard Erickson (Jon), and Dave Beard (Heather). Loving their Poppa are grandchildren Tom Simpkins, Anna (Michael) Gilligan; Ryan Beard, Lindsey Beard, Colin Beard; Scott (Chelsea) Erickson; and Emily Beard, Sarah Beard, and Will Beard. Extending Dad’s legacy of family is six-month-old great-grandson Everett Erickson, whom he had yet to meet and who can expect to hear wonderful stories about his great-grandfather. Dad’s surviving cousin Joan Lee Frankenfield (Sr. Miriam Joanne, HC) was as close as a big sister to him, and Dad in turn was a big brother to his surviving sister-in-law Diana Ward Collins.
We are very grateful to the ‘Just As Family’ caregivers who have helped us look after Dad at home around-the-clock since February, for their tenderness and patience.
We think of you at peace now, Dad -- meeting your own father at last, after losing him before your second birthday; reunited with your Mom/our ‘Grammy’, whose only child you were; and whistling and skiing down through the trees at Steamboat, elegantly and delightedly slicing your way through the champagne powder you loved so much and skied with us until almost 80 years of age.
Services will be held at a later date, and will be announced in the Coloradoan.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (“Stars” Recognition Program/Donald Beard, MD c/o SAHM, 111 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 1412, Chicago, IL 60604), the Museum of Art | Fort Collins at https://moafc.app.neoncrm.com/forms/online-giving (or by mail at 201 S. College Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80524), or to the Colorado Chapter - Alzheimer’s Association, P.O. Box 61469, Denver CO 80206.
Godspeed, Don Beard – you are remembered and treasured by many, and we are so fortunate you were ours.
If you would like to attend this funeral mass virtually, please visit Saint Joesph Catholic Church Youtube Account, or click on the link below:To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr. Beard, please visit Tribute Store