Glen Bean is the 2009 Adams State Billy Adams Award recipient


Glen Bean '36 will receive Adams State College's most prestigious award, The Billy Adams Award, at the Homecoming Banquet on October 2. "I have had the privilege of seeing the growth and development of Adams State Normal School through to the present stage. I am pleased to see how President Svaldi continues to develop the programs and reach out to the immediate community, as well as northern New Mexico and the surrounding states."

President David Svaldi said Bean has been a loyal and active supporter of Adams State his entire adult life. "He has been engaged in all aspects of the campus from athletic contests to cultural activities. His giving history to ASC is among the longest of any current living alumni and he richly deserves this recognition."

The Billy Adams Award recognizes those who follow in the tradition set by the college namesake, Billy Adams, who was committed to Adams State and its continual growth. A true proponent of education, Adams was instrumental in establishing Adams State College in 1921, while he was governor. Bean's ties to the campus date back to when the school first opened. His father, Luther, was on the original faculty, founded the first outdoor program, still in existence today, and even chose the college's colors: white, for the snowcapped mountains and green, for the evergreen trees.

Bean graduated from Adams State Teacher's College with a degree in elementary education. "In those days, every Adams State graduate had an education major." The degrees read "rural education."

"Teachers were prepared to teach in a rural school." Bean says it was the days "of poverty," and some students only completed a two-year limited certificate because of financial reasons.

Contemporary and vintage interests

There is no simple summary of Bean's life and interests. He has lived throughout the United States, was stationed in Mexico during World War II, is a valued local historian, and remains tuned into current events locally and nationally. The day of the interview, July 14, Bean was watching the Sotomayer hearings on a large screen plasma television. His coffee table was arrayed with a large dictionary, a notebook his son assembled from his first six years in China, a writing tablet, and a pair of binoculars to watch the birds. His apartment is decorated with mementos from his past, including a Navajo weaving, prints by artist Woody Crumbo, and other western artists.

He recalls people from the past whom he greatly admires, speaks of the beauty of the wild, and, without irony, of his faith in all people. Every night as he falls asleep, Bean listens to a record album with a rendition of "Ave Maria", played on a turntable. "I sit here and reminisce."

Memories from Adams State are precious to Bean, and he stays abreast of the latest campus developments, including the possible name change to university and future construction. "Adams State has a special niche with the Hispanic community, the San Luis Valley, Southern Pueblo and northern New Mexico."

All of his siblings graduated from Adams State. Hazel Petty '46 '71, said she is proud of her older brother. "He has always been a supporter of Adams State."

Bean continues to be an active member of the Grizzly Club, despite some physical limitations. In 2005, he received the first Grizzly Club Member of the Year Award. He was presented with a lifetime membership in the club as tribute to his overall support of athletics. At the time, Bean said he had not missed a home game for over 20 years.

In college, Bean played on the 1936 basketball team that qualified for the AAU National Tournament. He also coached basketball and follows the Grizzly team as a true fan. He no longer drives after dark, so his friends, Joe and Shirley Zanski, 2006 Grizzly Club Individual Partners of the Year, escort him to the court. "Glen is a great historian and a wonderful person," Shirley said. "He has lived in many places and is so interesting."

Bean's career was diverse. He taught in the public school systems in Blanca and Canon City, after college, and during World War II served as a weather forecaster, with the United States Army Air Corps, today's equivalent of the Air Force, and was stationed in Vera Cruz, Mexico and Texas.

Humanist and naturalist

Although he continued his teaching career after the service, as a teacher and superintendent for the Hooper Schools, Bean preferred more open work-space. He was the first permanent superintendent at the Great Sand Dunes when it was still a National Monument. Working as a seasonal park ranger piqued his desire for a more outdoor career. Over the years, Bean worked in a variety of national parks and monuments, including Chaco Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and Blue Ridge Parkway. "My dad hoped I would take a short course and join the faculty at Adams State. I don't know if he ever forgave me."

Eventually, Bean was named the Rocky Mountain Regional Director, from which he retired in 1980. "I enjoyed being out in the wild country." He said throughout the years, his wife, Lois, never complained about the relocating or weather. They had five children, Laurie '74 (Don) Cameron; Janet ("Doc") Dochnahl; Elinor '78 (Danny) Gonzales; Heather (Craig) Dahl; and Ralph (Xiaoyam Deng) Bean '87. Lois passed away many years ago, but Bean's devotion and admiration has not waned. He said people still remember her work at the Alamosa Homeless Shelter, La Puente. "Her specialty was helping people."

Their faith in humanity went beyond lip service. He and Lois "adopted" a family from Guatemala and helped them to establish residency. The family still visits and stays in touch.

"When I retired from the National Park system, my successor asked me 'what was the secret to dealing with Indians.' I told him there is no secret, you treat them with respect and dignity, just as you would any other human being. We learned that from our dad."

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By Linda Relyea