William Joseph Beasley
William Joseph Beasley, 92, went to join his wife in heaven on December 13, 2018, surrounded by his three daughters singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Up until the day before his death, Bill exhibited his love and zest for life, saying, “When I get well…” and sharing ‘one more story’ from his incredible memory. Surrounded by family and friends, his last two days were filled with laughter and tears, songs and prayers, conference calls, facetimes and emails, as well as sacred rites and rituals, as we all prepared to say goodbye. He blessed his family this past Thanksgiving by playing Christmas carols on the piano from his wheelchair, while we all sang. Expressing his deep faith through making music was his ministry and life’s work. We will miss his eloquent leading of prayer at all occasions as the patriarch of our family.
Bill was born in Vancouver, WA on April 17, 1926 to Warren and Ruth Beasley and grew up on a chicken farm. His dad died during Bill’s childhood and his mother and he developed a love of travel as he grew. He served in a large US Air Force headquarters in Calcutta, India. He is Professor Emeritus of Music at Westmont College where he taught for 30 years in the fields of music history and literature, church music, and music theory, while also directing multiple ensembles. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from USC. A railroad buff since his early youth, Bill worked as a locomotive fireman for 2 summers, and then worked for Amtrak for 21 years as a station agent and ticket clerk at Santa Barbara and Oxnard stations, planning many trips for family and friends. Throughout his life, whenever he heard a train whistle, he would identify the train number, destination and whether it was on time or not. A lifelong church musician, he served as choir director at St. Mark Methodist and played the organ at Ventura United Methodist, All Saints by the Sea Episcopal, The Old Mission, Trinity Episcopal, and up until August at Samarkand. He was an active member of the American Guild of Organists and the liturgical Order of St. Luke. He was loved by many friends across the globe including many beloved Westmont students. His cats Toes and Lexie brought him years of love. Baba, as the grandkids called him, would always have some sort of goodie to share, usually some fine, dark chocolate.
In his home town church, where he was the choir director, Bill met and married the minister’s daughter and organist, Lucile Graham, in 1952. They moved to Santa Barbara where they raised their three daughters. Lucile preceded him in death on October 5, 2015.
He is survived by his daughters Carolyn (Mac), Susan (Paul) and Sharon (Raul), grandchildren Nicole, Danielle, Megan, and Paul and great grandson, Braylin.
We extend a heart felt thank you to Holly and Aretha from Assisted Hospice, as well as to the staff of Sarah House, for the profound loving kindness they shared with all of us during Dad’s last day.
A Celebration of Bill’s life and Memorial Eucharist will be held at Trinity Episcopal, 1500 State Street, in Santa Barbara on Saturday December 22, at 2:00, with a reception following. All are welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Trinity Episcopal Church.