It was a place and time that are almost forgotten now.

The year, 1917. The place, a rural community outside of Portland, Oregon.

John Beardsley when he joined the Marines, ready to embark upon four years of service that would impact his entire life.

This is where Jean was born. And where we can trace a lifetime of devotion to family and community that led to her generous support for the Society. Throughout Jean’s life, her values were celebrated in good times and clung to in the depths of The Great Depression.

“The best part of her childhood,” says Jean’s niece, Kathy McCabe, “was in a tiny, remote town in Oregon called Pedee.” Jean’s dad rented a farm there.

“There were fields and pastures surrounding the house,” Jean would write later, “and a forested area some distance below the house where a branch of the McTimmons Creek ran. It was small, sparkling, cool, and shaded by trees.”

They were a small, close family in a rural community. It’s where Jean and her brothers learned what it means to stick together through thick and thin.

Sadly, the farm didn’t work out, so the family had to leave their idyllic life in Pedee, moving to Milwaukee, Ore., then a small farming community. They wanted a home more than anything, but the Depression held them trapped in poverty.

But with hard work, they finally bought a home in Milwaukee, where Jean grew up. Graduating from Milwaukee High School in 1935, Jean spent a year at Pacific University, then transferred to a business college in Portland, becoming a legal secretary. She married her husband, Loren Beardsley, in 1941, and in 1953, they adopted John, their only child.

The family moved to Seattle, Wash. in 1960. Loren did well as a salesman, and the family prospered. Soon, they moved to Medina, Wash., where Jean worked as secretary of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church. After that, it was off to La Conner, Wash., where Jean was active in the St. Paul Episcopal Church.

Their son, John, joined the Marines right out of high school. Suddenly Jean was a military mom, and she sensed that the Marines would be good for her son. “Jean always felt that it was probably the best four years of John’s life,” Kathy says.

John served in Vietnam and Okinawa, among other duty stations. He believed the Marines stood for something important, and he liked that. The high point of his service came when he was selected to be a member of the honor guard on a Marine helicopter for the Apollo 18 splashdown. It was a moment in history and a moment John always treasured.

Jean Beardsley with her son, John, on one of the proudest days of both of their lives – the day John joined the Marines. John’s service inspired Jean’s generous gift for the Society.

After Jean’s husband passed away in 1998, she began thinking about her future and her son’s. So she created a plan that included a gift for the Society while providing for John. He received a stipend from the estate, and then, after both John and Jean passed away, the remainder of the estate became Jean’s generous gift to the Society. In this way, Jean was able to take care of her son and, at the same time, show her compassion for Sea Service families.

“I think Jean gave the gift to the Society because she wanted a way to express her fondness for the Marines because of what they did for John,” Kathy says.

“And knowing about Jean and her sense of family and community, I think she’d see the gift as lifting burdens from people serving the Navy and Marine Corps. That would have been important to her.”

This is the lasting impact a legacy gift can make – helping tomorrow’s Sea Service members. We’re grateful for Jean’s extraordinary generosity as well as for John’s service in the Marines. This is their legacy, and it will continue to help Sailors, Marines, and their families for years to come. Just as Jean wanted.

By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

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