John Luther Beair Jr., 86

NOV. 15, 1926 - FEB. 11, 2013

February 12, 2013
  • John Luther Beair Jr.
John Luther Beair Jr.

John Luther Beair Jr., 86, of Hagerstown, Md., passed away at home on Feb. 11, 2013, and has now gone to be with his Lord and Savior.

This obituary was written by Betty in loving memory of her husband, John:

John was born on Nov. 15, 1926, to two wonderful parents Vada K. and John L. Beair, Sr. John’s mother carried him to church, where he was enrolled in the Cradle Roll. John stayed true to his church, which was Evangelical United Brethren until it was changed to Grace United Methodist Church.

John is survived by his wife of 61 years, Betty Powles Beair, and she is the daughter of her deceased parents, Robert E. Sr. and Susan T. Powles. John and Betty have three children: Julie S. Martin, and her husband, Dean, John L. Beair III, and his wife, Barbara, and youngest daughter, Cynthia Ann Wigfield. We never knew what wonderful children we raised until John’s illness, and believe me we know it now. We have four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and John is survived by a sister, Arlene Messersmith, who is in Virginia Beach, Va., where her son, Ron, and his wife, Judy, live and make sure she is well taken care of. He also has a sister, Helen Beair, who lives in Hagerstown and is an avid church member and makes regular visits to shut-ins, and also takes care of the “Crop Walk,” with the help of Marge and Ken Peters. The Crop Walk is part of the Reach program. Helen is an avid reader, and teaches a Sunday School class.

When John was in Hagerstown High School, he rode his bicycle and delivered papers in the morning in the North End, and had to go to every apartment and put the paper at the door. He even saw that his mother received some of his money. He also worked after school at the A & P store downtown as a grocery bagger and he and the other boys did not leave until all the shelves were stocked. Then he walked home to Salem Avenue and never complained.

When John graduated from high school, he immediately went into the Army on Jan. 25, 1945. On his way overseas, the war was over. His unit was split up and John was picked to go to Japan and serve in General MacArthur’s Honor Guard, where he served until Nov. 20, 1946.

John had signed up in the Enlisted Reserves and was sent to Korea in the Signal Corps on October 5, 1950, and served until Aug. 21, 1951. He was in the reserves for seven years. We got engaged before he left for Korea and when he returned home we were married by Rev. Gordon G.I. Rider, at Betty’s home.

John went back to work at the A & P, and that is where we met. He was offered a job with the A & P to travel and take inventory in stores from Pennsylvania to Rehoboth Beach.

The A & P wanted John to move to Washington, and since he knew this was not what he wanted to do, his mentor, Earl Smith, who was also a member of Grace Church, offered John a part-time job in the accounting firm. John had gone back to the A & P store in Waynesboro, Pa., full time, and also had another part-time job.

John decided to become a CPA. He traveled to Harrisburg on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and to Baltimore on Saturdays. After two attempts, he passed the test. He worked for Smith, Elliott, Kearns & Co., and eventually became a partner.

We attended many of John’s military reunions, and our best friends, Dave and Sue Dorsey went with us. Dave made all the arrangements and we made side trips, after the reunions. We went to many states which included California, Texas, the State of Washington, Arizona, St. Louis, Mo., Canada, Pennsylvania, and Norfolk, Va., because that is where General MacArthur is buried.

John was a dedicated member of the Suburban Kiwanis Club. He was also a member of Elks Lodge No. 378, a life member of American Legion Morris Frock Post 42, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Eagles Club in Waynesboro.

John worked tediously on many committees, but he had a love for numbers and he became involved with the church finances. Because of the hours and hours he spent in making sure everything was correct, and detailed reports were made to the members; he gained their love and respect. This work was all done before computers and everything he did was in pencil, and the books were open for anyone to read.

God does work in mysterious ways, and when John realized that he was going to need help in keeping the financial records, along came Skip Magner, and member of Grace Church who had just retired from working for the government as an auditor. He agreed to work with John, and they worked together from July 2010 until the end of December 2010. This was perfect timing, because John’s illness started with pneumonia on Feb. 3, 2011. Now with Skip’s help the records are all on computers.

Because of John’s respect for Brooks Hart, and his wife, Ernestine, John was determined that their wish for an elevator would come true. We had a building committee and a fundraising committee. John took care of the money we made having fundraisers. The dinners were very successful, and without the hard work of Rayetta Murray, and her husband, Bill, who organized all the cooking, and also the excellent committee that worked with them, this never would have happened. Ask anyone who supported us and they will tell you about the potpie dinners. The elevator, and other upgrades, were made and it was all paid off in five years. Again, reports were given on a regular basis, and the members of Grace Church really appreciated the work John did. 

Now I’ll tell you how John became the generous and kind person he was. They call the older men that served in the military, “The Greatest Generation,” but John was the greatest “Gentleman.”

By this time, our children were grown, so we decided to take dance lessons from Mary Smith and this was one of the best things we ever did. We not only loved dancing, but Mary hosted several cruises, a trip to Hawaii and three trips to New York. We met so many wonderful people, and had many good times. Also, Brooks Hart wanted to give the seniors at Grace Church, and others, a chance to travel, so he and his wife hosted cruises, a trip to Hawaii, Myrtle Beach, and other day trips. God blessed John and I with many wonderful opportunities to travel, and many wonderful friends.

Mary hosted dances every month with bands, and we also joined the Pen Mar Dance Club in Waynesboro. We also belonged to the 9 & 90 Dance Club, and attended two dances a year. So many memories!

We became very good friends with Jack and Kate Myers through our dancing, and have been blessed by God with over 30 years of friendship. Kate and Betty, and John’s cousin, Jane Priest, had regular shopping trips on Thursday while Jack and John went golfing. What good times we had!

Our children and I have been blessed to have had John as a father and husband. I know that when John faces his maker, he will say “Job Well Done My Good and Faithful Servant.”

There will be no viewing, and the service will be held Thursday noon at Grace United Methodist Church with the Rev. Clark Carr officiating.

Family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Grace United Methodist Church Beair Family Trust Fund, c/o the church, 712 W. Church St., Hagerstown, MD 21740, or Hospice of Washington County, 747 Northern Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21742.

Online condolences are accepted at

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