On July 22nd 2019, the world lost a creative sculptor, a talented nature artist, an incredible birder, a fanatical puzzler, a dedicated wife, a loving mom and a caring grandma.
Jane Shull Beasley left us at 89 years young, having entered the world on February 20th, 1930, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She was the third of four children born to Howard and Mildred Wilson, with siblings Bernice, Howard Jr., and Steve. Her family moved to El Paso, Texas before she started kindergarten. When she was 12, they moved to a small mountain ranch near Salmon, Idaho. Jane grew into a talented, confident, and adventurous young woman. At age 15 she earned her pilot’s license, and scoured the skies as the only female pilot in Salmon at the time.
Jane finished high school in Salmon, and went on to study commercial art at the University of Idaho. There she met Bill Shull, whom she married and accompanied to medical school in Boston. While there, she studied costume design at Emerson College. She was proud to have worked on a project with famed composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. In 1954 she and Dr. Shull moved to Great Falls, MT, where raising four kids became a full-time occupation.
In 1966 Jane and Bill divorced. Jane then moved to Missoula, where she went to work as a single mother, supporting the children with her art. Her whimsical and realistic nature-themed pieces were eagerly sought after. A lucky 7 years later, at the installation service for their new Episcopal priest, she met Ray Beasley. He swept her off her feet. They married in 1973 and combined his 3 children with hers to form the Shull-Beasley Bunch.
She continued her work as an artist and together they started The Clay Gallery in Missoula, where they sold Jane’s artwork and manufactured clay. They moved to Coeur d’Alene, ID for a few years, until finding a dream spot outside Helena—as Jane put it, “a home-studio in the woods by a creek, shared with my feathered and furry friends”. Jane continued to produce and sell her artwork, while Ray created and sold custom outdoor packs and gear.
In 1993, at age 63, she opened up an art/birding store, Birds and Beasleys. It is a popular, one-of-kind store that continues its legacy today on the Last Chance Gulch walking mall now owned by her daughter Sandy. She also hosted a weekly radio show on KMTX for 19 years. Jane’s passion for sculpting, painting, and drawing never ceased. She also continued to enjoy putting together challenging puzzles, teaching her grandchildren and other children how to sculpt and paint, and doting on the cats and dogs that she brought into her home.
Jane is preceded in death by her husband Ray, former husband Dr. William Shull, parents, siblings, and her granddaughter, Sarah Tupper. She is survived by her children: Brad (Kathy) Shull and children Peter and Erin; Scott (Lisa) Shull and children Jeff and Andrew; Brian (Jeannette) Shull and children Daniel and Christine; Sandy Shull; Rick (Peggy) Beasley and children Madison and Graden; Sally (Gordon) Gettel and children Connor, Tyson, and Reagan; and Heather (John) Tupper and children Lena, Francie, and Auggie. She is also survived by 6 great-grandchildren.
It’s comforting to know that Ray is by your side. May you rest in peace among the wildflowers and the birds.
A memorial service will take place at 11am on Friday, August 9th at St Peter’s Episcopal Cathedral, 511 N Park Ave, Helena, MT 59601. A reception will follow immediately after the service, in the lower level of the church.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests a memorial contribution to: Last Chance Audubon Society PO Box 924, Helena, MT 59624, The Foundation for Animals (MT Wild) PO Box 389, Helena, MT 59624 or donation of choice.