Frank Beer | AspenTimes.com
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Frank Beer

Frank Beer was born in Grants Pass, Oregon in 1935. His parents were school teachers. He lived in Salem and Corvallis, Oregon where dad became a Professor at O.S.U. Frank traveled across the country by train, to the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree in Washington D.C. The train stopped in Livingston and he fell in love.

He graduated from Oregon State and he served active duty in the Army and Active Reserves. Then he married Marilyn and they raised a son, Lawrence. Frank taught art and biology at North Salem High.

He received two national Science Foundation awards – one in Aspen studying environmental science and the other was an academic year at University of Minnesota. The family moved to Aspen, Colorado to spend a summer working for Bob Lewis making biology films and ended up staying for 28 years.

While filmmaking, they made over 72 films, designed a one of a kind pre-school (Wildwood School-Aspen) and did consulting with U.S.F.S. and N.P.S. He also designed science learning centers for Hubbard Scientific and did an environmental inventory for a proposed southern Colorado ski area.

Frank taught at Aspen Middle School. In addition to teaching, he helped develop and participate in one of the first, and probably the finest, outdoor education programs in the U.S. Their graduates have traveled the remote areas of the world and several have stood atop Everest, while some have skied its glaciers.

Frank married his best friend, Suzi Sharp Coolidge, and suddenly he had 2 more kids. Amy was 8 and Shane was 6, and they brought great joy to his life.

The Beer’s had many adventures during their life together. They rowed the Colorado River 225 miles through the Grand Canyon two times. The first trip was with a group of Aspen teachers and the second was with high school kids who paddled their rafts. Few people had ever paddled through the canyon and they were actually the youngest group to ever do so. Daughter Amy was one of the kids. He paddled the Gray and Desolation Canyon of Utah at least 20 times with middle school students. And each fall he hiked to Marble, CO. with another group of students for an outdoor education experience.

He took a sabbatical from teaching and backpacked Europe for 3 months and camped throughout the United States for 12 months studying various environments and plant/animal populations. After the sabbatical, he transferred to Aspen High School to teach biology.

A fellow teacher and Frank developed an academic/outdoor Ed program for the top science students, Bleeker Street Kids They paddled Cataract Canyon of the Colorado, backpacked 75 miles across the Canyonlands National Park, and sailed in the Bahamas. Each trip had three components – science, creative-writing and 3-D map model building.

After Frank’sretirement in 1994, Frank and Suzi made their home in Livingston. But Aspen called him again and he returned to teach academic classes for the ski team kids each morning so they could practice their skills on the mountain each afternoon.

Frank helped design and build the stained glass windows for Holbrook Methodist Church, Pine Creek Methodist Church, and Clyde Park Methodist Church, all in Montana.

Frank is survived by his wife of 37 years, Suzi and their crazy dog Porter. His son, Lawrence Beer lives in California and has three daughters, Molly, Katie and Zoe. Frank’s daughter, Amy Coolidge and her partner, James Mayo live in Livingston, Montana with three daughters, Emma, Sophie, and Elizabeth. Frank’s son, Shane Coolidge, lives in Clarkdale, AZ with his wife, Romi and their son, Otis. Frank was the best thing that ever happened to Suzi and her children. He raised those kids as if they were his own.

After many days of fishing this summer in Montana, floating the rivers, camping, enjoying the beautiful big sky – frank died one evening after having the best fishing day of the summer on No-Tell-Um Creek, MT.

A Memorial Service is planned for the Roaring Fork Valley, CO later in September. Online condolences may be shared at franzen-davis.com.


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