Writing an obituary for my husband and lifelong companion was not something I had planned on doing today but here goes. Daryl Beam was born on June 24, 1946, to William R. and Eloise Alcott Beam. Even though he was born in Jackson, Mississippi, his real home was Montana. Daryl’s family migrated north with a stint in Denver before locating in Billings. Daryl went through grade school, junior high (Lewis & Clark) and high school (West High — Go Bears!) in Billings. His senior year of high school took him to Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minnesota, where they forgot to tell him he was a “newbie.” Daryl was fortunate to have two alma maters: West High and Shattuck. Thank goodness — because he loved reunions!!!
After graduating from Shattuck, Daryl ventured back down south, enrolling in Tulane University. His mom and dad both graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU — Geaux Tigers) but Daryl will be the first to tell you he picked Tulane over LSU because Tulane was in New Orleans — Laissez les Bon Temps Roule (let the good times roll). That didn’t stop him from being an LSU fan — one of the best, perhaps. Our wedding vows included my pledge of loyalty to LSU. We have seen the Tigers in Seattle and Green Bay and points in-between. But there is nothing like a game at Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night. As Daryl would say: performance art!!!
Daryl’s love for the outdoors started when he and his dad would spend weekends at Cliff Lake near Ennis or the X-Bar A Ranch south of Big Timber. Back in those days, they would hike into Slough Creek with frying pans, corn meal and bacon drippings in tow. There was nothing better than a fresh fish fried up right on the bank. Luxury.
Daryl’s love of travel also started at an early age. Every summer, the Beam family would ride the train from Billings to New Orleans and back. This love of travel inspired Daryl to start Black Otter Travel. He opened shop in the Hart Albin Building, right across the hall from Marie Halone’s Tea Room. He and Marie (or Fred & Ginger as they referred to themselves) had a long-lasting friendship. It was after Daryl sold the travel agency and moved to Bozeman that we met — New Year’s Eve 1974. The next couple of years were spent “retired” in primitive elegance, living in a log cabin on Sweet Grass Creek with wood burning stoves and a two-seater outhouse. This is where Daryl taught me to fish — and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Daryl’s 40-year career in real estate began in 1978. He worked with Don and Marilyn Floberg for all 40 of his real estate years. Being part of the #1 real estate firm in the region suited Daryl. He gave so much to his profession through his continuity as a Realtor as well as in leadership roles at the local and state levels. Over the span of his career, he saw just about everything imaginable in a real estate transaction.
Daryl chose his community volunteer activities carefully because he could only give them 110%. When Joan McCracken asked him to be on the first Montana Planned Parenthood Board, the answer was a resounding yes. Daryl was the strongest advocate for women and our rights. The Depot Board was a perfect fit — Daryl helped transform the buildings from pigeon poop to a premier event center. The MSU Billings Food and Wine Festival wine acquisition committee was another great fit — Daryl loves a good glass of wine and he could talk anyone into supporting a cause. We were both really proud of our work with the Yellowstone Art Museum — especially the implementation of the scholarship “lot” that gives everyone the ability to support art education during the once a year Art Auction fundraising event.
You won’t find anyone more committed to clean air, clean water and to protecting the critters that live among us. Daryl spent many years on the State Council of Montana Wilderness Association and as a volunteer for the Montana Conservation Voters. His love for Yellowstone Park began when he was a fishing guide back in 1964. We were committed to hiking as many trails as we could and to fishing in as many back country settings as possible. We found nirvana in Yellowstone so many times. If you are willing to walk those extra few miles to get away from it all you will be rewarded.
Daryl taught me to love travel. We have been all over the world and we have enriched our lives with so many wonderful adventures. Our travels had to include great local food and beverage, great art museums, great theater, great open air markets, great train rides — I think you get the picture. We are both firm believers that anticipating and planning a trip is just as pleasurable as the trip itself. Heck, Daryl already had us booked for several fishing trips this summer.
Daryl passed away on Jan. 18, 2021.
Daryl asked to be cremated. His only sister, Charlotte, and her husband Tom, will be making a trip from Michigan to Montana sometime after COVID has settled down and, together, we will place Daryl’s ashes in their final resting spot — close to a great fishing hole. Then we will invite us all to belly up to a bar somewhere and toast to a wonderful life.
If you wish to remember Daryl, a gift to the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter or Yellowstone River Parks Association would really make him smile.
I love you, Daryl. Thank you for 47 wonderful years.