Galen and Doris Beery — A Remembrance

October 29, 2016
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galenanddorisGalen and Doris Beery, who were killed in an automobile accident on Oct. 11, were eulogized at a Saturday memorial service at La Verne’s Church of the Brethren on Oct. 29.

Doris’ daughter Tonya Tyler shared how Galen had covered the couple’s bedroom ceiling with a depiction of the Milky Way galaxy as a tribute to their lasting love for each other.

Their starry marriage and service-minded hearts never flickered from their mission to serve others.

Galen had been the point man for the Church World Service’s Indochinese resettlement program after the fall of Saigon in 1975, helping settle more than 80,000 refugees from war-torn Southeast Asia.

Doris became the Ontario Fire Department’s first female dispatcher before going on to coordinate the city’s fire education safety programs.

Their resumes didn’t end there, however. Galen, who had attended Bonita High and earned his bachelor’s degree in history from La Verne College, was very much the town’s historian for well over a half-century. He was known around town as “Mr. La Verne,” for his depth of knowledge about the town.

Equally, Doris was widely known and celebrated for her work and contributions to myriad relief and civic organizations, ranging from NIMI to the Red Cross.

I, as a fellow La Verne resident, also got caught up in the couple’s firmament. About 1984 or so, I wrote a real estate story for the Los Angeles Times on this quaint town called La Verne. At once, I was informed I had to meet with Galen so that I could really capture the town’s essence. His portrayal and love for the city was so convincing, I ended up moving here permanently.

Another time, while gathering background for a story I was writing for La Verne Online, I joined Galen on a city park bench downtown for what must have been a couple of hours to hear him describe his work with U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. State Department to help people in Laos and Cambodia gain basic services like running water, schools and public health facilities.

It was years later, when I was the public information officer for the City of Ontario, I first met Doris. We met often so that I could stay current on all the projects she was working on to promote fire safety in Ontario and throughout the region. She was always so easy and pleasant to be around – like a first rain in spring. Her touch was always light but thoughtful.

I heard Brethren pastor Susan Boyer describe Doris as the rock coated by velvet, or something to that effect, but I only saw the velvet.

The last time, I saw Doris was a on a hike with the La Verne trekkers. Although I had never walked with the group, she immediately made me feel right at home. Again, she was that kind of person, always embracing others and taking them in.

What’s amazing is, there must have more than 500 people wedged into the aisles and pews of La Verne’s great Brethren Church to honor and celebrate the lives of this extraordinary couple. Each I’m sure had a unique memory or recollection as poignant as my own.

Our reunion wasn’t just a love fest for a couple that can never be replaced (who among us will shoulder the awesome responsibility of continuing to create and chronicle La Verne’s amazing history?). It was a galaxy of goodwill that will live on through the decades because Galen and Doris made it so.

4 Responses to “Galen and Doris Beery — A Remembrance”

  1. Jeanne Jacoby Smith. Ed.D.
    October 30th, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    We cannot not get enough of people like Galen and Doris Beery. My husband and I were at Claremont in the early 1970s and attended church at the LaVerne Church of the Brethren so we know the church very well. May the God of Mercy spread God’s love upon this wonderful couple and the many whose lives they affected.

  2. I had not heard about this tragic accident until now and I am extremely saddened by this news.
    Galen and Doris were our longtime clients who treated us like friends in so many ways! Galen had us over his house several times giving us their films to transfer and La Verne films to transfer as well. He also would make it a point to tell us when he saw old projectors that we might be able to use for our business. A big reminder that life is so precious and can stop in a blink of an eye. But even though I am so saddened by this news, I am glad that they are together in heaven.
    May the Peace and Love of God be with all their loved ones.

  3. I am Doris’ son and Galen’s stepson. Of all that I’ve read and heard about my parents since the accident, this remembrance has touched me the most. I need to find out who wrote this.

  4. I met Galen in the fall of 1965 when I arrived in Laos for a two year tour with International Voluntary Services (IV) and last talked to him at the IVS reunion in Tennessee that he and Doris had attended and were returning from when killed. He and my wife became fast friends when I returned to Laos in 1968 shortly after I married Joann. With his language and people skills as well as dedication to the people of Laos Galen was always a model for we volunteers and those working in Laos. Five years ago on a visit to California my wife and I spent a day with he and Doris. He took us on an interesting walking tour of La Vern and the college. At the IVS reunion in Tennessee I made a note to email him to express how much I enjoyed the presentations he gave there. That note sat on my dresser until last week while I tried to grasp their deaths and my feelings. We will miss both of them and will cherish our memories.

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