Hiker. Camper. Skier. Grandma. Volunteer. GranVida Resident.
Bea, Marching For Peace
Like millions of Americans, California offered the hope of a better life as America’s economy tried to recover from one of the world’s worst economic downturns. So Bea’s family, including her 2 sisters, packed their belongings and moved to Los Angeles when she was just 5. A younger brother was born later.
“My father had spent time with an aunt and uncle in Los Angeles when he was growing up. After my Dad married my Mom, he thought he would have better opportunities in California. That’s where we ended up. Dad was happy, but my mother was a little taken back at moving away from her family. All I remember about the Midwest is how cold it was, but we did go back to Minnesota to visit our relatives.”
As a child growing up near downtown LA, life was different back then. Los Angeles was a big city but there were still wide open spaces in between the neighborhoods. Bea learned to ride a pony and began to explore the great outdoors, enjoying the mild California weather.
“When I got my first paycheck, I went across the street and opened up an account at Bank of America. I was really proud of being able to have my own bank account. I also remember visiting my mother’s cousin in Altadena and going to the Rose Parade many times.”
After high school, she worked at a big downtown department store while, attending Valley College in Van Nuys. Bea then started her career as a Medical Case Social Worker for Olive View County Hospital in Los Angeles until the day he retired.
“I loved dancing. We had a great time every Saturday night. We decided to get married and settled in Van Nuys.”
Their family grew to 5 children, followed by 5 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Bea eventually got divorced, but remained very independent and tremendously active. That’s when she joined the Sierra Club and started traveling all over the world.
“One of my sons taught me how to ski in California. We then decided to go with some friends to Poland and that’s where I really enjoyed skiing. I have also traveled to South America, Europe, Africa, China, Thailand, India, Easter Islands and the Galapagos Islands with small groups from the Sierra Club. My last trip was to Mongolia. In fact, I’d like to go again.”
The Great Peace March
Along with Ed Begley, Jr., Teri Garr, Lauren Hutton, and hundreds of others, the singular biggest event in Bea’s life was her participation in the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament in 1986. Its rather lofty goal was to raise awareness to the growing danger of nuclear proliferation, and to advocate for the complete, verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons.
Starting in February, she trekked over 3,700 miles from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., camping along the way, and finally arriving on November 15, 1986. As a 50-year Sierra Club veteran, a long trip across the entire country was right up Bea’s alley.
“The interesting thing is that I met a lot of my relatives along the way. It was amazing and one of my great aunts said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to bring your friends over’. And she made cookies for us because we were staying overnight someplace with the tents and everything. I saw relatives who I never saw before. They knew I was coming because of my Mom.”
“We climbed this big mountain, up, up, up, up, it curled over and then on the other side, we went down. And we eventually ended up in Washington, DC. Both of my daughters were there to meet me.
“Along the way, when we got near Minnesota, somebody was asking, ‘Is there a Bea someplace here? Well, I’m her aunt.’ So, I didn’t have to sleep in my tent that night. They brought me into a nice place to sleep with my cousin.”
“I drove up to Carpinteria and looked at it and said, ‘Oh, that would be fun’. Instead of renting, I bought it, but didn’t move there until I quit working and retired in 1985.”
Here in Carpinteria, Bea worked in nurseries like Seaside Gardens, while volunteering at the Carpinteria Seal Watch, the Carpinteria Salt Marsh, the Carpinteria Library and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
Small Town. Great Life.
Concerned that Bea was living alone, one of her daughters thought it was time to move to GranVida so she’d have 24/7 care. On Halloween Day, 2017, Bea moved in and felt right at home.
“The other residents and staff were dressed up in costumes, so I said, ‘Oh my God, this is fun’.
I danced Thriller with Felipe and I’ve been enjoying myself here ever since.”
Bea relaxes with yoga, walks around town at least three days a week, spends times with friends listening to music and loves socializing over cocktail hour.
She’s come a long way from Minnesota and her journey across America in the name of Peace. But Bea has found a peaceful life here on the coast in Carpinteria.