By Ben Lara
Editor’s note: This tribute to Brett Beasley was read during a Celebration of Life event held on February 10, 2017.
My name is Ben Lara and for the past seven years I had the amazing experience in working with Brett as his immediate supervisor. Brett started his Forest Service career in 1995 in the Upper Arkansas Valley. For the next 22 years he would go on to become one of the most recognizable and accomplished natural resource managers in the Upper Arkansas Valley. His enthusiasm and dedication to the Forest Service was infectious. You could not spend any amount of time with him and not become his best friend. He had an amazing capacity to love and care for people. Beasley, Beas or Brett with two TT’s had many nicknames. One of my favorite came out while working on a volunteer project on the top of Monarch Pass. We ran into some hikers along the section of trail we were working on. I didn’t recognize them but they asked if the “Legend” Brett Beasley and asked if he was working that day. From then on I would address all my emails and text as “What’s up Legend?,” “Hey Legend.”
Part of the legend comes from Brett’s impact on our community. You see, coming from other Forest Service units I had never experienced the openness and support from the surrounding community towards the Forest Service. After a few years I began to learn this community support stemmed from people like Brett Beasley. Everyone that I would meet in the community when I told them I worked for the Forest Service, would immediately ask if I knew their good friend Brett Beasley. Understand that being a Forest Service employee in a small town where people rely on recreation for their physical, financial, emotional and spiritual well being can be a difficult role to play. This pressure is probably why a lot of Forest Service people move around so much. Brett’s career and life choices represent something special that we don’t see that often in our line a work. When you combine a “community-first” mindset like Brett’s with the passion, love and respect for the natural environment amazing things can happen. During Brett’s career with the Forest Service he was able to accomplish some amazing things, most of which he probably would be most proud of is the relationships he forged and maintained throughout his career. Legendary …
Most of you who knew Brett know that he was a sensitive guy and he really cared about maintaining positive relationships with his co-workers, members of the public and partner organizations. He constantly worked to improve and strengthen these relationships but being open and available to whomever needed his attention. Brett was a catalyst for public involvement and constantly sought for inclusion. He embraced the idea making sure everyone’s voice would be heard and that we continued to work as a team. In recreation there can often times be differing views on how what types of recreational opportunities should be provided. As a manager of the natural environment with a love for outdoor recreation Brett forged new ideas on bringing these groups together. One of Brett’s best techniques in doing this was to put a shovel in these groups hands and invite them to work collaboratively on a project. He taught us that when you roll up your sleeves and sweat next to someone who appears to have differing views, inevitably common values towards the natural environment emerge. Brett created community. Legendary …Brett cared about people more than anything else. Justin recently pointed out that if you looked at his office space compared to everyone else’s he had so many more pictures of people. This is because this is what he cared about. He cared about people, in fact he loved people. Brett was a role model to a lot of us in the agency. He directly supervised more seasonal staff than any other person on our district. He did this with leadership, integrity, humor, and a strong work ethic. I personally witnessed Brett do the same with Bari and Brooke. One of the first times I had the opportunity to hang out with the Beasley Family was at our house. At the time I didn’t have kids but was inspired by the deep connections Brett had with Bari and Brooke. They were playing some silly game where they would try to toss a ball back and forth to each other as many times as possible without dropping it. As small as it sounds this vivid memory of Brett, teaching, playing, interacting and loving his kids represented so much of what was important to him. Everybody in our office knew how proud Brett was of his family. His girls meant everything to him and seeing his girls grow into the amazing people they are made him so proud. In the office we had a running deal that if you ended up in the newspaper for something good, it was your turn to buy beers. Well it seemed like Brett was constantly owing us beer because it seemed like just about once a week we would see Brett, Bari, Brooke or Cari in the paper accomplishing something great or contributing to our community in a positive way. Legendary … We owe Brett greatly for the strong sense of community he created. In some ways I don’t think we could handle the loss of someone like Brett if it wasn’t for the community that he created. We as forest service employees and visitors to the national visitors to this district also must thank the Beasley Family as a whole. We have a deep sense of gratitude towards the Beasley family as we appreciate the sacrifice you all have made in sharing Brett with us. Brett was a very hard worker and certainly didn’t draw a line between work and play. What I mean by this is that he would often think of work as his free time. Brett worked many long hours throughout his career and when not working he was quick to volunteer for similar type of work on his days off. Brett could not have had the time or support if it wasn’t for such an amazing family in Cari, Brooke and Bari. Thank you for allowing Brett to share so much time with us. Legendary … It is natural for us to focus on all that we have lost today but let us not forget the Legend, the Legend Brett Beasley and all the great things he created for us.