Howard Dean Beeman Jr. died peacefully at home on June 22, 2014, in the loving care of his wife, Susan Pelican and their children, Ezra Beeman and Rachel Pelican, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Born June 15, 1943, in Woodland, Howard — “Zeke” to most everyone who knew him — was the firstborn child of Anna Marie (Sieferman) and Howard Dean Beeman.
Howard attended Holy Rosary Academy and graduated from Woodland High School in 1961. In 1965, he married his first wife, Martha Howard, and their son, Howard Beeman, III was born in 1966. After earning his bachelor’s degree in engineering at UC Berkeley in 1966, Howard entered the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant, trained as a paratrooper, and served for one year at Tay Ninh, Vietnam, in the Army Corps of Engineers. He was discharged from the Army with a Bronze Star.
On returning to civilian life, he was devastated at the dissolution of his marriage and began a search for a new direction.
In 1972, he became one of the first 32 California organic farmers certified by the Rodale Press. He was a pioneer in organic farming, one of the first to transplant processing tomatoes in the 1980s.
In 1973, Howard married Susan Pelican, and together they bought and moved to his maternal grandmother’s farm, the Sieferman home place, so that he could raise rice, his favorite crop.
Early on, Howard became interested in the work of German philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who developed systems of farming, education and medicine. He and Susan enrolled their firstborn in the (Steiner) Sacramento Waldorf School in Fair Oaks, and decided to build a local school for Rachel when she was ready for kindergarten. Together with a small group, they established the Davis Waldorf School. Howard was the lead in locating the school at its permanent site, and in the designing and construction of the first buildings, as well as being its first administrator.
In the late 1990s, Howard turned his attention to national politics and determined to run against the current Democratic congressman whose vote defeated the Glass Steagall Act. He ran in the primary in 1998, but lost. In 2002, he ran in the (reapportioned) 3rd District in Sacramento — a very spirited and professional grassroots campaign — but lost to his opponent.
Howard is survived by his wife of 40 years, Susan; his daughter, Rachel Pelican; his sons, Howard Beeman III and Ezra Beeman; as well as Howard’s partner Cyndi and Ezra’s wife Ceri and their children, Sydney, Ezekiel (“young Zeke”) and Eden Beeman. He also is survived by his brothers, Mike and Donald Beeman, and his sister, Kevan Beeman.
He was predeceased by a son, Simon Francis, who died as an infant in 1978; and by two sisters, Sue and Betsy Beeman.
He had a three-day home funeral in Nevada City, where people were invited to visit and help accompany his soul as it left the body and went to the spirit world. A funeral service was held Thursday, June 26, in Woodland. Interment followed at the Woodland City Cemetery, and then a reception and celebration of his life at the Davis Waldorf School.