John Gerald Beech
November 23, 1951 - August 25, 2017
John passed away on August 25, 2017 at his home in Slayton, MN, while surrounded by his family. He was 65 years old and had metastasized esophageal cancer. His goal from the first day he was diagnosed in December 2014 was not to teach people how to die from cancer but, rather, to provide an example of how to live with it. John lived life to the fullest.
John was born on November 23, 1951, at the Slayton Hospital to Gerald and Thelma (Bloom) Beech. He was baptized at St. Ann’s Catholic Church. At age four, he got on his horse and followed the neighbor kids to the Mason Township country school, which he attended through second grade. He graduated from Slayton High School in 1969 and attended Bemidji State University as a biology major.
In 1969 John was hired as a summer laborer at Talcot Wildlife Refuge. In 1973 he became a wildlife technician for the Department of Natural Resources and worked at Talcot until 1991, when he transferred to the Slayton DNR Section of Wildlife office. Throughout his career, John helped develop and restore wetlands and habitats in the four counties of southwestern Minnesota. He retired in June 2016. He was honored with the Minnesota Waterfowl Association Legacy Award, in recognition for his commitment to the protection and management of Minnesota’s wildlife through his work on habitat projects.
In April 1988, John married Mary Cattelino at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Slayton. They lived in rural Slayton all of their married life, building a home adjacent to John’s family farm in 1991. They were blessed with three living children: Katie, Daniel, and Samuel. Together, John and Mary enjoyed volunteering in the church as Confirmation teachers and TEC (Together Encounter Christ) retreat directors. Together they received the Spirit of TEC award in the Dioceses of Winona and New Ulm. John taught confirmation for over 30 years and always loved his church “kids.” He was a lifelong member of St. Ann’s, where he received six sacraments. For several years he also enjoyed attending mass and teaching at St. Mary’s in Worthington.
John loved the great outdoors. He was always happy when hunting, camping, fishing, and otherwise enjoying God’s creation. He shared this love with others by volunteering to teach firearms safety and as a committee member with Ducks Unlimited. He knew every back road, hunting spot, and fishing hole in the area. A storyteller and keen listener who took delight in people, John loved attending school activities, spending time with family and friends, and taking family vacations.
John is survived by his wife, Mary; daughter Katie (Vincent) Helmuth of Pueblo, CO; sons Daniel of Minneapolis and Samuel (Ashley) of St. Paul; siblings Janice of Brandon, SD, Joseph (Nancy) of Brookings, SD, Judy (Donald) Determan of Slayton, Jeffrey (Yunhui) of Cottonwood, AZ, Jerome of St. Cloud, MN, and James (Kristen) of Battle Lake, MN; mother-in-law Patricia Cattelino of Appleton, WI; brothers-in-law Robert Cattelino of Fort Atkinson, WI, Michael (Lynn) Cattelino of Appleton, WI, and Kurt (Sharron) Swendson of River Falls, WI; sisters-in-law Jessica Cattelino (Noah Zatz) of Culver City, CA, and Aimee (Rick) Blomme of Marshall, MN; and many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents and grandparents; infant son, Andrew; infant brother, Edward; father-in-law, Joseph Cattelino; and sister-in-law Cathy Treanor.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at St. Ann’s Church in Slayton, MN at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 with Fr. Tim Biren and Fr. Jim Callahan officiating. Song leaders are Peg and Steve Breiter and members of the Sonrise Singers with violin by Dan Beech. Burial will be at St. Ann’s Cemetery.
Pallbearers are Randy Christianen, Cal Gunnink, Michael Kirchner, Wendy Kruger, Judy Markl, Brian Mathiowetz, Kent Schaap, James Siedschlag, and Craig Wilson. Burial will be at St. Ann’s Cemetery.
Visitation will be on Monday, August 28 from 4-7:00 p.m. at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Slayton with a prayer service at 7:00. Visitation will also be one hour prior to the services at the church on Tuesday. Totzke Funeral Home of Slayton is entrusted with arrangements. To send condolences visit totzkefuneralhome.com
Memorials can be directed to Hospice of Murray County or The John Beech Memorial Scholarship Fund at Murray County Central High School.