OBITUARY

Gordon Beaham III

February 11, 1932September 18, 2016

Gordon Taylor Beaham III, died quietly at his home on Sunday, September 18th. He was 84 years old.

Throughout his life, Gordon worked to make the lives of others better, and the organizations in his community stronger.

Born on February 11, 1932, Gordon attended Pembroke Country Day School in Kansas City, graduating with the class of 1949. From there, he attended Princeton University, where he earned a BS in Engineering in 1953. Gordon continued his involvement at Princeton though alumni giving and governance. Perhaps his greatest legacy to the University was his strong leadership towards the inclusion of women and minorities at Princeton, as he actively recruited and supported diverse candidates who would make the University a stronger community.

After college (and marrying his sweetheart, Nancy) Gordon was a commissioned Ensign in the US Navy at the Naval OCS. He completed Underwater Demolition Team Basic and Advanced Underwater Training. He was stationed at the Virginia Naval Amphibious Base and at the Submarine base at St Thomas, Virgin Islands.

In 1958, Gordon earned an MBA at the Harvard Business School. After his years in Cambridge, Gordon and his bride returned to Kansas City where he joined the ranks at Procter and Gamble for two years, before joining his family’s business in 1960.

Gordon began his career at the Faultless Starch Company as the fourth generation family manager, and worked his way forward to Vice-President, President, Chairman of the Board and CEO. Gordon led tremendous growth at the business, modernizing its main product line, laundry starch, and being the first brand to launch a spray starch. He also diversified the business, adding brands such as Bon Ami, The Garden Weasel, Kleen King, Trapp Private Gardens, Magic Sizing, and most recently, Niagara Spray Starch. Gordon was devoted to his team at Faultless, and to doing business in Kansas City. The company continues to manufacture its primary product lines in the Kansas City West Bottoms.

In 1954, Gordon married the love of his life, Nancy Jane Davidson. She was by his side for most of his great adventures, in Kansas City and around the world. They had four children, Catherine Beaham Smith, Carolyn Beaham West, Robert Beaham, and David Beaham. Their son David died in 2011.

Gordon always believed in giving back to his community and making the world a better place. His civic and organizational activities were extensive and included supporting organizations that worked with all ages and all walks of life in Kansas City. He was the President of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City, and remained an active supporter after his retirement. He also served as the Chairman of the National Parks & Conservation Association, helping to protect American wildernesses and bring new visitors to our treasured parklands. He was a member of the Princeton University Alumni Council, a Trustee at the Sunset Hill School and the Pembroke Country Day School. Gordon and Nancy together were founders of the Tocqueville Society for the United Way. Gordon was a former lay reader and Vestryman at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Gordon supported many business organizations, and served as Director of Grocery Manufacturers of America, International Laser Systems, Inc., American Bank, Ameribanc of St. Joseph, Mercantile Bank of K.C., and Info Data Systems. He served as a Trustee of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Chairman of the Board of The Watchdogs of the Treasury in Washington, DC, Director of Students in Free Enterprise, Trustee of Midwest Research Institute, and a Director of Business Industry Political Action Committee.

Gordon is survived by Nancy, his wife of 62 years, and three children. Ever one to bring people into the center of his family circle, he is survived by his sons-in-law, Geoff Smith and Roy West, and his daughter-in-law, Tricia Beaham. Gordon was thrilled to be grandfather to Jacqueline Taylor Beaham, Gordon Parker Beaham, and Lillian Grace Beaham; Robert Leroy West; and Lily Belle Beaham.

Gordon is also survived by his beloved sister Olive Beaham Lansburgh, her two children, Jennifer Wright Berrigan and Allen Wright, and their children.

Gordon always felt that the employees of the Faultless Starch/Bon Ami Company were part of his extended family. He knew them by name, and took an interest in their expertise at all levels of the business.

Funeral Services will be held Friday, September 23 at 3:00 p.m. at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, the Gordon T. Beaham III Scholarship Fund at Princeton University, and the David Beaham Reading Room at the University of Kansas Anschutz Library.

Services

  • Memorial Service Friday, September 23, 2016
REMEMBERING

Gordon Beaham III

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
John O'Connor

March 27, 2017

My brother Gary O'Connor loved Gordon and worked at Faultless for many years. I had the pleasure of playing golf in a tournament at Smithville golf course which we won. Gordon was a lot of fun to be around. Gary has also passed away and I'm sure they are again reunited, hopefully on a golf course.

M. Alex Geertsma

March 10, 2017

My contact with Mr. Beaham was as one of his "summer employee sales interns". He would recruit us to introduce us to sales and from what some said, to try to persuade college students to return to Kansas City. I came to admire him certainly as a very successful businessman, but much more for his character and the model he presented as someone who gave back much more than he received from his beloved Kansas City and his company.

I regret not having kept in touch over the years and wish I had been able to let him know just how much simply observing him and what he stood for has served me as a life's guidepost. If there is a case to be made against "Globalism", it is not an economic one. It is if it leads to our forgetting the debt we owe to friends, neighbors, and community and how the works of people like Mr. Beaham enlighten not only his community and company, but ultimately, the world. In all things, he truly did God's work.

Paul Pritchard

September 30, 2016

Dear Beaham Family
Gordon was one of the creators of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, an inspiration for the National Parks and a mentor of incredible significance for me.
He was the silent partner for all of us who toiled against so much misunderstanding about the Preserve. He brought us all together and kept us focused.
Gordon's time as chairman of the National Parks and Conservation Association was filled with progress for both the parks and for the association. He knew how to lead, quietly.
I will always remember his smile and invaluable counsel.
I am sure I speak for everyone who knew his many contributions when I say, "Thank you, Gordon."
Paul Pritchard

Larry Bailey

September 27, 2016

I only know "Gordo" by handshake and by his reputation in the Underwater Demolition Teams. Like everything else he touched, he left that corner of the Navy a better place.

Veronica Terrazas

September 26, 2016

Gordon was a great leader who truly cared for his employees. He wanted to share with everyone all the remarkable things he had learned, a good book, or a special article - I loved that about him! I still have my collection of Gordon's gifts!!
I am honored to have known him and to have once been a part of the Faultless Starch Bon Ami Company family!!

Martha (Marti) Garcia Kampen

September 25, 2016

Gordon was my first boss out of college. He took a chance on me at a time when jobs were hard to find. In my short tenure with FS/BA Company, I learned a great deal from him about looking far into the future and setting up the present toward a better vision for all. That has actually become my life's work now. I am grateful to have known and worked for Gordon. I am a better and smarter person because of him. My thoughts and prayers are with all the Faultless Family, especially Nancy and Cathy, and all your family. I know you will miss him deeply.

Kurt Holdeman

September 24, 2016

Gordon T. Beaham III, a great man. Gordon & I met frequently on Saturdays as he was a tireless worker & I was in charge of security. One of us, always set off the alarm; thus my job & obligation in the 90's.We always laughed, had our coffee & looked forward to the next Saturday. Kathy, to you & your family I'am deeply saddened & sorry for your loss. Godspeed & prayers be for the Beaham family.

Jim Finefrock

September 23, 2016

As a student at Princeton just 50 years ago, I was hired by Gordon to work several summers at Faultless Starch along with two dozen other undergraduates. He was an alum who gave back. I sold starch. One of the other projects was Black Light, which produced a cartoon strip created by inner city kids. Later, he persuaded the headmistress of the old Sunset Hill School to interview me, and I taught English there for a year. Gordon became a lifelong hero for me for the kind of person he was, and the kind I aspired to be. As others have alluded to, he was strong and kind, imaginative and foresighted, loyal and supportive. But I think the quality I admired most in him was a kind of calm persistence. Back in those years a half century ago, he was intent on desegregating a few venerable Kansas City institutions. Young and rash, I advocated breaking a lot glassware to accomplish this. He didn't bite, but he didn't quit either. No glassware was broken. Through calm persistence over time, he prevailed. It's a quality in short supply these days. We'd all benefit from remembering Gordon's example.

Michael Murphy

September 23, 2016

Kathy, Geoff and family...saddened by your loss--you're in our thoughts and prayers...

Pat Carney

September 22, 2016

As fine a man as you will ever meet. I had the privilege of working for Gordon for close to 20 years. He was a kind, generous man who always had a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone. He will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy to the Beaham Family.