Cover photo for Beatrice Longley's Obituary
Beatrice Longley Profile Photo
1921 Beatrice 2017

Beatrice Longley

May 20, 1921 — October 13, 2017

Life Story for Beatrice Beghtol "Bee" Longley

Bee Longley, loving mother, grandmother, and friend, a seeker of justice, visionary and activist, died on October 13 at her home. She was 96.

Described by friends as “a force of nature,” Bee was a great example of the energy and hospitality of the Midwest, in her case Nebraska, where she grew up the daughter of a judge, Karl Beghtol, and an intelligent and community minded mother, Ena Brach. She played clarinet in the school band and didn’t miss a dance.

She was born May 20, 1921, almost exactly 9 months to the day after the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women the right to vote. Her mother was a strong supporter of the women’s suffrage, inspiring her daughter to be an ethical citizen. Bee worked tirelessly to get women’s voices heard and register people to vote. Democrat, she hoped.

Bee attended the prestigious institutions of Carleton College where she studied art history and theatre, and Harvard University Graduate School of Design where she studied architecture with renown Bauhaus artists. In 1942, she married Jay Rhodes Longley in Washington D.C. After her husband finished his medical training and military service they settled in Southern California where she became active in the League of Women Voters and the campaign to stop the freeway from cutting through her beach town, Corona Del Mar.

She raised her four children in the home that she helped design in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright that was featured in design magazines for its stunning plan and beauty. Her children and their friends were most impressed with the whimsical playroom with a 10 foot high loft. To reach it you had to climb up a rope ladder. If you slipped, luckily you landed on the heated cork floor. It was innovative and radical, just like Bee.

In 1971 she moved to Sun Valley, a place she fell in love with in the 40s on a ski trip, where she created a property management company which was successful due to her steadfastness, generosity, common sense, and trustworthiness. Her business supported her annual escapades around the world, like the time spent snorkeling and studying coral reefs off Australia with oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau.

When she wasn’t traveling, her insatiable curiosity and desire for knowledge led her to her “favorite place,” The Community Library. As a board member she was a key player in its design. Next time you visit sit in the low leather chairs that she talked the board into purchasing, and think of Bee.

She was a fine athlete all her life. In the winter you could see her skiing with her beloved springer spaniel, Heidi, and her family and friends at Galena into her early nineties.

Like most everyone in Sun Valley, she worked passionately to protect the environment. She was a powerful leader in the recycling efforts. Having lived through the depression and seen poverty around the world, she detested any kind of waste.

Although she never belonged to a church her faith was attested by her consideration for the rights of others. Her religion was to read The New York Times every day and save articles of interest for her children, grand children, and the friends she made around the world.

Every fall Bee got her culture fix buzzing around New York City. She always walked the High Line and was sure to catch the latest plays, ballets, and art exhibits (after getting her matzah ball soup at the Carnegie Deli) with her granddaughter or her beloved cousin Jeanne Bultman.

Bee’s devotion to her family was exemplary. Her oldest son, Jay “Sparky,” inherited her environmental concerns by creating Rainbow Sandals, a recyclable shoe that is cleaned and distributed to those in need. Bee wore her Rainbows whenever the ground was free of snow. Her daughter Zeva, an artist and environmental educator, introduced thousands of disadvantaged children to nature. Bee and Zeva renovated a sinking houseboat on San Francisco Bay. Her youngest son Marc, a visual artist, fondly remembers hiking up Titus Ridge with Bee and Marc’s wife Mary, sharing a delicious lunch then taking multiple runs. Bee was known for her graceful telemark turns. Her determination was demonstrated by the fact that her youngest child Sheila was born three days after she won a golf tournament. Bee always encouraged Sheila to explore, from experimenting in the kitchen to taking her on a two month backpack trip to Europe when Sheila was just 10.

She is survived by children Sparky and his wife Chanya; Zeva and her partner Jim; Marc and his wife Mary; Sheila and her husband Greg; grandchildren, Alicia and Luca.

Donations in Bee’s name can be made to The Community Library.

We will always carry Bee’s memory in our hearts. A celebration of her life will be held Sunday, November 12, from Noon until 3:00 pm at The Community Library in Ketchum.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Beatrice Longley, please visit our flower store.


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