Elizabeth "Kris" (Walton) Beal, age 88, of Fredonia, N.Y., died Dec. 12, 2012, at the TLC/HN Health Care Facility in Irving, N.Y. She was a former "First Lady" of SUNY Fredonia, married to Dallas K. Beal, president from 1971 to 1985.
Mrs. Beal was born on Christmas Day in 1923 in Columbus, Ohio, to Mary R. and Charles W. Walton. She attended public elementary school and the progressive Campus School of Ohio State University for seventh through twelfth grades.
She married Dr. Dallas Knight Beal on June 9, 1951 in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Beal, who was president of SUNY Fredonia from 1971 to 1985, died in 2002.
Mrs. Beal earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Ohio State University, later teaching elementary methods courses in its art department. She also taught elementary school in Shelby and Bexley, Ohio; at the State University of New York at New Paltz’ Campus School, and was an elementary counselor for two years at Wheelock School in Fredonia, N.Y.
While teaching at Queens College in New York State, Dr. Beal was tapped by President Harry Porter in 1958 to serve as Director of Education at the Fredonia (N.Y.) Normal School, later advancing to Dean of Professional Studies and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the university. In 1970 Dr. Beal was named Interim President and became the State University of New York at Fredonia’s 10th President in 1972, serving until 1984, when he became Acting Executive Vice Chancellor of the State University of New York system.
Mrs. Beal described her years with Dr. Beal as the “First Lady” of SUNY Fredonia with great affection, and talked about their teamwork in welcoming students, faculty and staff, and community members to the President’s Home and in entertaining visitors to campus. She also noted their children were a great help, even with their busy lives, as was Mrs. Beal’s mother, who lived with them seasonally for a number of years.
In addition to the former SUNY Fredonia Faculty Dames, Mrs. Beal was an active volunteer and member of the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County, the Hillman Memorial Music Association, the American Association of University Women, the Brooks Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and the First United Methodist Church of Fredonia, where she taught Sunday school for many years.
After serving SUNY and the college for 26 years in a progression of administrative and teaching positions, the last 14 years as president of the college, Dr. and Mrs. Beal decided retirement was in order after such a long tenure. The free time wasn’t for long when professional friends from Connecticut persuaded Dr. Beal to apply for the Chancellorship of the state’s four college campuses.
In 1985, Dr. Beal was named President of the Connecticut State University System, and the couple moved to Simsbury, living there for nearly 10 years. Upon his second retirement, Dr. and Mrs. Beal returned to Fredonia, and in 1996, Dr. Beal served as Interim President of SUNY Fredonia prior to the appointment of President Dennis L. Hefner. In May of 1986, Dr. and Mrs. Beal were honored by the Fredonia College Foundation with its Distinguished Service Award, recognizing a lifetime of service to the university and community.
An accomplished watercolorist and teacher, Mrs. Beal’s work was exhibited several times, most recently in a solo show in October 2010 at SUNY Fredonia’s Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center Art Gallery. Mrs. Beal was also the proprietor of Milk House Antiques in Forestville, N.Y., for 10 years.
Prior to moving to Connecticut, Mrs. Beal helped with a very dedicated committee to spearhead the Fredonia Preservation Society’s effort to save the Fredonia Village Hall and Opera House from demolition. She has been described as a “people person” with friends of all ages, and happiest when busy and with family. Mrs. Beal was also very involved in the 1980s effort following a fire to renovate Fenner House on campus, which became home of the Office of Admissions, and she also helped to purchase period furnishings for the reception area. In addition, Mrs. Beal was instrumental in helping to acquire furnishings for the Stefan Zweig room in SUNY Fredonia’s Reed Library and the large marble statue of “David” which resides in the inner lobby of King Concert Hall on campus.
Survivors include her daughter, Joan (Randy) Zwolak, of Forestville, N.Y.; son Jeffrey (Jerrie) Beal of Homer, N.Y.; granddaughter Megan Zwolak, grandsons Brian Zwolak and Jason (Lorie) Beal; and great-grandchildren, Colin and Nora Beal. In addition to her parents and Dr. Beal, Mrs. Beal was predeceased by her brother, Charles Wesley Walton, and a granddaughter, Jessica Mary Beal, in whose name a scholarship was established by the family through the Fredonia College Foundation. Dr. and Mrs. Beal also established the Dallas K. and Elizabeth W. Beal Award through the foundation, and supported the Dallas K. Beal Community Access Fund, which provides tickets to arts events on campus for lower income families.
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