Happy Birthday, Brother!
Today marks the 100th birthday celebration of Brother Joe Beach, who was born on March 18, 1919. Brother Beach was born in Paducah, KY, and was the youngest of three children. His parents were lovers of music and decided to enroll him in the “National School of Violin” when he was in 9th grade. He soon went on to win statewide recognition for his talents.
Joe later began his studies at Murray State College, now Murray State University, and was a Charter member of the Gamma Delta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha in 1938, along with future Executive Secretary Price Doyle. During his years at MSC, he played string bass in the dance band, sang in the a capella choir, and started the now traditional ‘Campus Lights’ variety show, which is still put on each year by Gamma Delta Brothers.
In 1939, at the age of 19, Joe began teaching in Shelbyville and the surrounding county school systems. He began a string program in the schools there. “I would go into a third-grade class and take a violin and say ‘Here is your pre-band instrument.’ Then I’d tell them that when they get to middle school, they could choose their band instrument.”
When duty called, Joe joined the Marines and was stationed in the South Pacific on the island of Okinawa. During his time there, he couldn’t help but transcribe Okinawa’s national anthem. Unfortunately, he was injured while carrying a stretcher when a nearby cave exploded. “I was passing a cave, and the cave blew up,” he said. “When they found me, I was chopping down another tree to make another stretcher. They put me on a hospital ship and sent me back to the United States!” He was then awarded a Purple Heart for his service.
In 1945 he resumed teaching in Shelbyville and was able to enjoy spending time with his young son, Larry, and his wife, Virginia. In 1952 he moved to Lexington to teach and began putting more energy into building the music programs in the local community. He conducted the Shelbyville High School orchestra, chorus, and band. He taught in the Taylorsville and Simpsonville schools, was choir director for the First Baptist Church, started the community chorus, and provided the band for the noted Shelby County Fair horse shows.
Brother Beach was on the forefront of bringing string music education to the Fayette County Schools and was a founding member of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. His efforts made an impact in his local community that resulted in strong school orchestra programs that have not only survived, but continue to provide value to the students of Lexington for almost seven decades.
Shortly after moving to Lexington, Joe became president of the Kentucky Band and Orchestra Directors Association, coordinated both the All-State Band and Orchestra festivals in Shelbyville, and earned a master’s degree in music from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
His orchestras at Henry Clay High School were nothing short of outstanding, winning state and national recognition and launching a host of musicians into professional performance and college teaching positions. For the sheer totality of his work, Brother Beach earned induction into the Henry Clay High School Hall of Fame in 2005.
Joe now spends his days doing crosswords with his son and listening to Brahms, his favorite composer.
Happy Birthday, Brother! Thank you for your service to our country, and for all you have done for music, your students, and your community.
Join us in wishing Brother Beach a Happy Birthday!
You can send birthday wishes by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can send birthday cards to Brother Beach at:
Mr. Joe Beach
c/o Larry Beach
3362 Pepperhill Road
Lexington, KY 40502-3840
1919 to Today
Brother Beach has lived a long life and has seen the whole world change before his eyes.
A list of just some of the major events that Brother Beach has experienced in his life is provided below.
- The End of World War I
- The passing of Ossian E. Mills
- Women’s Suffrage
- The Great Depression
- Star-Spangled Banner named our National Anthem
- Television invented
- The introduction of Social Security
- The first introduction of Minimum Wage
- World War II
- First atomic bomb
- Establishment of the United Nations
- Establishment of the CIA
- Establishment of NATO
- Korean Conflict
- Vietnam War
- Puerto Rico becomes a U.S. Commonwealth
- First Hydrogen Bomb
- Brown vs. Board of Education
- Alaska becomes the 49th State
- Hawaii becomes the 50th State
- Cuban Missile Crisis
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a Dream” speech
- The assassination of President John F. Kennedy
- The assassination of MLK
- Apollo 11 Moon Landing
- First Computer introduced
- Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion
- First Cellphone Introduced
- Persian Gulf War
- Fall of Berlin Wall
- Columbine High School Shooting
- World Trade Center attack
- Election of first African-American President