Harry Robert Beard, 86, formerly of Doylestown, was cleared to land in Heaven on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Flying was his passion, duty, career, and his way of inviting the timid and the brave to experience life at the controls.
Growing up on the family airport in Chambersburg, he learned to fly while still in school, and after graduation entered the Air Force, serving stateside, in Okinawa and in Vietnam. After 20 years’ service, he retired from “flying a desk” at the Pentagon, moved his family to Doylestown, and joined Ransome Airlines in 1973, getting back into the air. Pan Am followed, with international destinations.
Harry retired from Delta in 1993 but over the years owned several small aircraft that he used to introduce friends and family to his love of flying. After retirement, he converted his 1791 stone farmhouse into the Peace Valley Bed & Breakfast, wisely outsourcing the baked goods so he could focus on making his guests feel at home. In his later years, he found enjoyment piloting and towing gliders at Van Sant Airport and the Philadelphia Glider Council.
Harry, who went by “Jim” for much of his life, was always concerned with the well-being of others, serving as deacon and elder at Lenape Valley Church, as a mentor in Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Bucks County, as a volunteer at Life Abundant Inc. and as host to immigrant Laotian families fleeing the violence of their homeland. He epitomized the Greatest Generation — a man of many accomplishments well hidden beneath a humble, thoughtful persona.
Born July 21, 1933, in Waynesboro, Pa. to Robert Harry and Catherine (Hawbecker) Beard, he graduated from Chambersburg High School and the University of Nebraska Omaha. While in the Air Force, he married Joan (Duncklee) Beard in Scranton, Pa., in 1957. His son Mark was born in 1958 and son Scott in 1961. In 1966, the family moved to Okinawa and remained there while he served in Vietnam. In 1971, the family returned to Alexandria, Va., moving to Doylestown in 1973.
In 1992, Harry married Jane Foster (Donovan) Beard, and they moved to Souderton in 2010.
In addition to his wife, Harry is survived by sons Mark (Allison) Beard of Doylestown and Scott (JoAnn) Beard of Lake Ariel, PA.; Kevin (Phyllis) Foster of Claymont, DE; Sean (Robin) Foster of Highland, MD; Megan (Joseph) McClaskey of Quakertown, PA; Cullen (Karin) Foster of Mt. Wolf, PA; his loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren; his twin brothers, Raymond (Sue) Beard and Richard Beard, both of Fort Myers, Fla.; and sister, Patricia (Gene) Hughes of Manchester, Pa. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two sisters, Mary Cook and Betty Kennedy.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date.