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Our Jan Swanson Beal very peacefully left this earth on June 28, 2022, surrounded by laughter, song, hugs, and so very much love…
On January 18, 1949, Clarence Wayne “C.W./Cap” and Marian Swanson Beal celebrated the birth of their son Jan Swanson. He was greeted by an older sister Cathy and brother Wayne. Shortly after, they happily welcomed a little sister, Jane, whose extended family became part of ours.
The young Beal family spent much of their free time at the Cottage in Grand Valley where he met his second family on Starr Hill. Jan loved that land and would plant trees, keep bees, hunt, and raise hell. Jan graduated from North East High School – his favorite class was Vo Ag. He then attended Penn State Behrend majoring in Forestry.
In August 1968, Jan blind-datedly met the love of his life, Kitty, who was hoodwinked into thinking he was a charming individual with decorum. Boy, was she ever wrong… but she was smitten, and they married July 12, 1969, took off for a humid Florida honeymoon, missing the launch of Apollo 11 by 12 hours! They had three wonderful children: Brett, Marty, and Shelley. Jan came to be a very proud husband, father, son, brother, brother-in-law, son-in-law, father-in-law, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, pops, papa, Gip to his Kip, “Mister P”, and Janster. He invited everyone into his life as family as they were.
After a miserably cold winter of trying to make a living cutting pulpwood at Eagle Rock, lighting the dozer tracks on fire every morning, Jan opted to join the family painting business as an apprentice and diligently worked to become the successful owner of a second-generation family corporation, C.W. Beal, Inc. est.1935. Jan was forever generous with his employees and fair to his customers, and he was honest as the day is long.
Away from work, he volunteered time to the McKean Recreation Authority (Rec Park) where he proudly wrote successful grants and worked on projects through completion to expand the park and benefit the community. He was a leader for his children and many others through coaching baseball and softball (having made it to State Championships with the Divisional All-Star Girls’ Softball Team!). Jan inherited many friends/families on his countless adventures. He proudly supported local businesses and charities and sponsored numerous youth athletic/music programs. His compassion and hard work were passed down to his children who learned the importance of helping others and having a strong work ethic.
Jan was a long-time member of the Painters Local Union 549, Erie Construction Council, McKean Recreation Authority with friends Larry, Dave and Jim, Saint Francis Ushers Club, Delta Sonic Car Wash, and others.
Pops was a gourmet chef who could whip up a mean wieners and beans with a Rocky Mountain/Latte’ beverage at his fingertips. He loved to travel and share adventures with his family and friends… and there were many. He was gracious with his time and always took care of everyone around him, whether they wanted him to or not. He could be the life of the party or the listener, and often took the toughest and longest route to get to where he was going, because “Mister P” had his own ways of doing things… but he enjoyed the journey and the destination. If things went awry, he would laugh and say, “if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” We call this Jan Beal Luck.
Now hold on… Jan Beal was somewhat of a “lobster connoisseur”, a shrimp cocktail and iceberg lettuce kinda guy, as well as a precise and avid writer (he loved a good obituary), editor, music aficionado (if he liked the song) and film critic. He was disappointed that Armageddon was not nominated for an Oscar. A lover of the wilderness and wildlife EXCEPT raccoons, chipmunks, woodchucks, carpenter bees and ants, bats, squirrels (black, flying, and red), and most of all woodpeckers! Really, he especially loved deer and turkey and some stray cats, and his kids’ hand-me-down pets that he inherited and cared for with the utmost compassion.
Never a dull day if you were offered the opportunity to see the world through Jan Beal’s eyes. He was a big dreamer but made sure to take his time and enjoy the little things in life. He could be as silly as he was serious. Wearing his heart on his sleeve and forever keeping Busch Light in the fridge or cooler, Jan welcomed everyone he met with open arms. His home (really, anywhere he went) was as open as his heart – Jan never met a stranger. He appreciated a good joke and sharing laughter and stories wherever he went… his laugh was contagious. He loved a good prank whether it was a Thanksgiving card that he received for his birthday or putting on a mask and scaring his grandchildren in the field as “Baghead.” His favorite phrase to recite was “If you can’t have fun, what can you have?” reminding all of us to be lighthearted and to do at least one fun thing every day.
Jan was a man who lived by great principles and went out of his way to help others… he was the Clint Eastwood of kindness and generosity. He loved going to the family Cottage, driving around while listening to Sirius XM Radio, savoring his favorite beer, and being involved in great conversation. He was a beacon of light and joy for all those he helped, joked with, listened to, and shared himself with. And he loved that they shared it back to him; as much as he loved to tell a good story, he loved to hear one too.
Jan had the chance to know and love all his friends and family members. The Jan Beals of the world make our world a better place, and his loss will be felt by all of those who were lucky enough to have met or known such a humorous and thoughtful soul.
Many thanks to the staff at St. Vincent’s, especially the Emergency Department staff and CNICU – you know who you are! Thank you for caring for Jan so kindly and respecting his family. And many thanks to our family and friends who have been here through it all… we are forever grateful for your love.
Jan is survived by his wife Kathleen “Kitty” (nee Brunn), sons Brett and Martin “Marty” (Dana), and daughter Rachelle “Shelley” Woyicki (Randy), sister Jane Walsh (Denny), sister-in-law Susan “Sue” Hubler (Howard, dec’d.), and niece Karissa Walsh Freeman (Mark). In addition, he is survived by his grandchildren Martin “Mart” (Alanta), Nicole “Nik”, and Evan “Ev” Beal; Riley Walter Woyicki, Michael “Old Mike” Ziegler (Liz), and Jessica North. He had four great-grandchildren, Rowan “Ro-Flo” Beal, Bryona, Gabe, and Delaney, a great-niece and two great-nephews, and countless friends from all over whom he considered his family.
Jan was predeceased by his loving father, mother, sister, brother, grandparents, parents-in-law, brother-in-law, and cousin. Also preceded by his dear friends Jim, Wild Bill, Captain Dave, The Old Dawg Donnie, and all of his other “Hunting Buddies.” He will be sorely missed by all of the “Beal Camp Gang.”
Per Jan’s request, there will be no formal service. A celebration of life will take place at the convenience of his family. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, any General McLane Band Boosters/Athletic Association, or a charity of your choice.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of the W. Tad Bowers Funeral Home, North East, PA.