The Bassett Youth Foundation recently remembered the life of David Phillip Beere, 100. Beere, who died on Jan. 24 of this year, was born and raised in Owego. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1940, and when the United States entered World War II, he entered the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. A few months later he went out to sea on the tanker, “Texas Sun.”
On June 6, 1944, Beere was on the first troop transport ship, the USS General G. W. Goethals, to arrive at Omaha Beach. The USS Susan B. Anthony, initially the first ship, had struck a mine off Normandy. Although proud of his service during World War II, he could not talk about what he witnessed on that day until recently.
A visit to Normandy in 2012 gave him some peace. He was especially moved by a group of young French school children that asked him questions and wanted to have their picture taken with him. At a local restaurant, they refused to charge him for his meal and thanked him for his service.
In November 1945, Beere was in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia awaiting the arrival of the SS Abbot L. Mills with its cargo of relief wheat from Texas. As the Abbott Mills approached the Dubrovnik harbor, it hit a mine. Damage was confined to one hold and David was assigned responsibility of the ship. Knowing that the wheat had been sent for the hungry citizens of Dubrovnik, but would soon be confiscated by Russian authorities, he spread word to citizens to bring all wagons, buckets, and bags to carry the wheat to their homes. That is what happened.
He returned after the war to Kings Point Academy for a delayed graduation ceremony. The future Vice-President of U.S. Lines, Admiral Stedman, awarded David his diploma. Ten years later, Admiral Stedman hired David to work for U.S. Lines, which was then considered one of the top shipping lines in the world. He spent more than a decade in Japan managing U.S. Lines’ Osaka office.
While in Japan, he continued to serve in the United States Naval Reserve, retiring as Lieutenant Commander in 1966. In 1983, he retired from U.S. Lines. He then joined American President Lines for 12 years, followed by Lykes Brothers Lines (aka CP Ships, Hapag Lloyd), The Pasha Group, and Matson Lines, where he was still working months before his death.
Beere was known for his incredible memory, which allowed him to recall not just names and birthdays of his family and close friends, but the names, birthdays, and schools of his friends’ and colleagues’ children. He enjoyed nothing more than hosting a luncheon or dinner when he could bring people and good food together.
A longtime member of International Association of Movers (IAM), he was inducted into the IAM Hall of Honor in 2008.
In 1977, as president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Defense Transportation Association, he gave the welcoming message at the 32nd Annual Forum and Exposition. Among one of his remarks was, “The challenge of success is an ever-moving target requiring constant change and adaptation if we are to attain our goals.” Little did he realize in 1977 that he would be able to change and adapt for 40 more years as a member of the shipping industry, working until he was 100.
Beere was loved by a large circle of friends and associates. He is survived by three daughters – Pamela (William), Deborah, and Patricia; and a son, Philip. He is survived by three grandchildren – Jacques, Brijette and Natalie. He is also survived by a niece, Barbara, and a nephew, Robert. A memorial service will take place in summer 2019 at Arlington National Cemetery.
To honor his life and work, one can contribute to two scholarship funds that were meaningful to him.
The David P. Beere Family Scholarship is presented each year by the Owego, N.Y. based CHB Youth Foundation to a graduating high school senior who has demonstrated good character, a high concern for others, an ethic of hard work, and a desire to attend a service academy, enter the military service or do public service. Contributions can be sent in honor of David to CHB Youth Foundation, 34 1/2 Lake St., Owego, N.Y. 13827.
The International Association of Movers (IAM) Alan F Wohlstetter Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to the employees of IAM member companies, their dependents, and student members of IAM. Contributions can be mailed to the Alan F Wohlstetter Scholarship Fund c/o IAM, 5904 Richmond Hwy., Suite 404, Alexandria, Va. 22303-1864. To learn more, visit www.afwscholarship.org.