William Minner Beyea, jazz musician, insurance agent

William (Bill) Minner Beyea of Weston died in Danbury Hospital on April 25 after a brief illness. He was 79.

He was born in New Rochelle, N.Y. on Jan. 3, 1933.

Mr. Beyea attended grade school and high school in Pleasantville, N.Y., and graduated from Colgate University in 1955.

He was an accomplished jazz musician, playing numerous reed and woodwind instruments throughout college and traveling to Europe with the Nassau Jazz Band. For more than 10 years, Mr. Beyea played clarinet and saxophone in the Finger Lake Five, a jazz and Dixieland band that opened for Billie Holiday at her final New York City performance, played to an audience of more than 24,000 at the 1958 New York Jazz Festival, performed on the Jerry Lewis Telethon, and recorded a number of records. He was a frequent guest player at Eddie Condon’s Jazz Club and Jazz at Noon and he continued to play locally throughout his life with numerous musicians.

Mr. Beyea had forays at Time, Inc. and Newsweek, where he traveled extensively, and later at Merrill Lynch and Mass Mutual. He spent the last 30 years as an independent insurance agent and financial planner, contributing often to a financial column in the Westport News.

In addition to his love of all things music (especially, jazz, classical and opera), Mr. Beyea was one of the early members of Cedar Point Yacht Club in the ’60s and loved to spend time sailing. He spent many summers with his family vacationing in Truro on Cape Cod, and loved traveling with his wife throughout Europe over the years. He was also a gourmet cook and connoisseur of fine wines and spirits.

Mr. Beyea was an active member of the Weston Historical Society and a former member of the Weston Kiwanis Club.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Gale Ann; his son William Beyea and his wife Amy Beyea; his step-son Walter Phillips; his step-daughter, Julie Phillips O’Grady and her husband Martin of Westport; his nephew, Chris Boyd; as well as his three grandchildren, Liam O’Grady, Billy Beyea and Emily Beyea; and his great niece Sara Boyd.

He was predeceased by his parents, Archibald and Mary Eleanor Minner Beyea, his step-mother Lucille Baily Beyea, his family housekeeper and spiritual mother Kathie Kucera, his sister Alison Maude Beyea, and his first wife, Margaret Morrissey Beyea.

A celebration of his life will be held at Cedar Yacht Club on Friday, May 18, from 3-7 p.m. Harding Funeral Home is responsible for arrangements. For more information, visit hardingfuneral.com.

—by The Forum staff

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