Richard James 'Dick' Bean was born at Fort Sheridan, IL on October 18, 1932 to Major General Emmett James Bean (Class of 1919) and Jeannette Geibel Bean of Erie, PA. He was a graduate of Normandy High School, Saint Louis, MO and received an appointment to the United States Military Academy with the Class of 1955. West Point held a special place in Dick's heart for all the lasting friendships he made with his fellow classmates. He was assigned to Company L-1 in his plebe year. Dick worked extremely hard academically. When he was not studying, he was active in wrestling and other various club activities. However, it was the game of golf that would be his lifelong passion. Dick had a good singing voice and was a member of the West Point Choir. At that time everyone was required to try out. As he recalled, being a member of the Choir allowed him to 'escape' West Point during plebe year when the Choir performed on the road.
Dick is best remembered as a man of humility and strength who treated all he met with dignity and respect. In addition it was his grace sprinkled with an infectious smile and sense of humor that would light up a room with goodwill.
Dick served 20 years as an Infantry officer and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Dick's military career took him to numerous overseas assignments, always to Asia. Dick's military career started with the Basic Infantry Officer Course, Ranger and Airborne schools (1955-56); Platoon Leader and Company Commander, C Company, 34th Infantry, 24th Division, Republic of Korea (1956-57). Upon his return from his assignment to Korea, Dick married Sally Mann Alexander on September 7, 1957. Sally would be affectingly known as his bride for the next 55 years. He met Sally during cow year on leave in Indianapolis, IN. After their marriage, it was off to Fort Benning, GA and Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) to be a Ranger Instructor (1957-60). There his son 'Bobby' was born. In 1960, the Bean Family was assigned again to the Far East, where he served as General Paul Caraway's Aide-de-Camp for the High Commissioner, Ryukus Island, Okinawa until 1961. While in Okinawa he was the Company Commander of C Company, 503rd Airborne Infantry (1962-63). He returned to CONUS to attend CGSC at Fort Leavenworth, KS (1963-64). After graduating, he was assigned to West Point where he worked in the Admissions Division from 1964 to 1967. It was here at West Point he received a master's in history from Columbia University in 1965. West Point was also where his daughter Leslie was born.
Dick would again travel overseas with 1-5 CAV to Vietnam (1967-68), where he served until severely wounded and medically evacuated. His accomplishments earned him numerous military awards and citations to include the Bronze Star, Air Medals and the Purple Heart. Dick moved his family to Colorado Springs after a tour on the Army staff at the Pentagon (1969-71). He was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division as the G1, then he was the 1-10 'Golden Rifles' Infantry Battalion Commander (1973-74) at Fort Carson, CO. Dick had decided to retire in Colorado Springs and asked for a staff position in for his final assignment. However, the Army sent him back to Vietnam with the Military Assistance Command (1974-75). Dick was instrumental in the planning the evacuation of South Vietnam in 1975. He was one of the last Americans to depart Saigon before it fell. He retired from the military in 1975. Dick was a Soldier's Soldier and was always concerned with the morale and welfare of his troops. He lived the West Point motto: Duty, Honor, Country.
After retiring, Dick worked first for Merrill Lynch and then was recruited by the First National Bank, where he stayed for the next fifteen years until he retired again when it became Bank One. While at the bank, he became active in various organizations in the Colorado Springs Community, including President of the Skyway Association, President of the Colorado Springs Downtown Rotary, Colorado Springs Association of the United States Army, President of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Springs Opera Guild and Dance Theater and on the boards of Portales Park and the Cheyenne Mountain Country Club. In the last decade, Dick discovered his talent for art and took up painting between rounds of golf and wine tastings. Though he never promoted his artwork, they were sought after by friends, and he became a successful amateur painter. Many a home now has a Dick Bean original, and they remain a lasting memory of a budding artist.
For Dick Bean the most important thing in his life was his family. He loved his wife, Sally; his son, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Robert A. Bean, his daughter-in-law, Jane, and their children: Corum, Hunter, and Catherine. He loved his little girl, Leslie E.B. Gottesman, her children, Emily and Teddy, and her husband, Rob. He always enjoyed the times when the family was together. At one time, his sister, Bettye Bean Young, and his brother-in-law, 'RIP' Young ('42), lived in Colorado Springs where his three nieces, Barbara Morrison, Linda Erickson and Patricia Hughes, would visit with their husbands and children. Dick loved his family and they loved him. He was called Gimpy by his first grandchild; the name stuck and became his most honored and enduring title.
Dick Bean died surrounded by his family. Prior to his death he asked that his family and friends 'live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and leave the rest to God.' He now joins the Long Gray Line.
TAPS Memorial Article