BEEM, FOUNDER OF NURSING HOME, DIES

May 05, 2001 12:00 am
Alice Beem ().
Alice Beem ().

Thelma Alice Beem, 94, died Thursday after spending the last seven years at Curry Good Samaritan Center a place she helped create more than 30 years ago.

Beem came to Brookings in June 1949. She worked as a practical nurse for Dr. Adolph Schmidt, the towns only doctor, and soon realized the need for a nursing facility in Brookings.

Different community members had no one to sit with their terminally ill family members so mom would sit with them, said Gerry Bucher, her oldest daughter.

Caring for the sick helped Beem realize the need for a nursing facility and a bus trip provided an answer to the need. Beems seat mate on the trip told her about the Good Samaritan Society in Sioux Falls, S.D. When she returned from her trip, Beem wrote the society.

She received a reply and the dream of the center was a step closer to reality.

The society asked Brookings to provide a site for the building and $1,500 for each bed in the facility. The society would then pay the building costs and all the expenses of running the home.

Beem contacted Elmer Bankus who had promised he would donate property if she found a way to build the home.

After the property was secured, the job of getting the money for each bed remained.

One of moms jobs was to go around to the businesses and raise the money, Bucher said.

The Chamber of Commerce assisted her with the fundraising and in three weeks, enough money was raised for a 68-bed home.

The center opened its doors in August 1969. Beem received national publicity appearing in Ladies Circle Magazine in 1970.

After the center opened, she continued to be a part of it.

She lived in a little house across from the Chetco Inn and she would often walk to the center, sometimes two or three times a day, to visit with the residents and play the piano, Bucher said.

Music was her whole life. She loved to play the piano and the organ. She was involved as a musician in many different organizations, Bucher added.

In 1993, Beem realized that she would need to move into the center she helped create. She contracted pneumonia and needed oxygen therapy for several months.

Her children tried to convince her to move to the Rogue Valley, but she refused, Bucher said.

She wouldnt leave. Curry Good Samaritan was her baby. She loved it there. They doted on her, she said.

Brian Larson, administrator of the center, said She was extraordinary. She always had a smile on her face.

A memorial service for Beem is planned for 1 p.m., May 11, at the Brookings Presbyterian Church, 540 Pacific Ave.