Cover photo for Bill Beam's Obituary
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1944 William 2023

Bill Beam

November 14, 1944 — September 12, 2023

Laguna Beach, California


Bill Beam passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on September 12, 2023 doing what he loved, fly-fishing on the Big Wood River in Hailey, Idaho on a beautiful autumn afternoon.

Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the first-born son of Marion and William Beam, he attended Bound Brook High school where he played football. He graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in Art History and rowed for Rutgers on the Lightweight Crew Team.

After graduation in 1966, he joined the United States Marine Corps, completing Officer Candidate School and Navy flight training. He flew F-4 Phantom fighters and he and Rosanne were married in 1968 soon after he pinned on those Navy Wings of Gold.

In 1970, after a year-long tour in Viet Nam for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, he was sent to MCAS El Toro in Southern California. Much of his career was spent at El Toro with many deployments elsewhere. He and Rosanne moved to Laguna Beach in 1976. During the early 1980’s there were orders to Hawaii for four years where diving and sailing became new interests. Highlights of his military career include being selected for and attending Top Gun and being the Commanding Officer of a detachment aboard the carrier USS Midway where the thrill of landing on the carrier was a daily event. He spent 21 years in the Corps and retired in 1987.

After retiring from the Marine Corps, Bill continued his flying career with American Airlines. He spent 15 years as a first officer and then captain on the MD-80. He retired in 2002.

Bill had many interests. An avid fly-fisherman, he fished not only the trout streams in the Mountain West but also made several salt-water fly-fishing trips to Christmas Island, Belize, Xcalak, Mexico and Cape Cod. History, culture, art and architecture were the focus of many trips to Europe, the UK, Egypt, China, Russia, Australia, Japan, Africa and New Zealand among others. Bill was an excellent skier and ski trips took him to Utah, Colorado, Oregon, the Sierra, St. Anton and other Austrian ski resorts. In addition to these hobbies, Bill was a cook extraordinaire; his beef wellington, paella and rack of lamb were exceptional and he was never afraid to tackle a new or complicated recipe or create his own. Piano playing, fly-tying, attending live theater and college football were other pastimes. He was a life-long football fan and faithful to his Alma Mater, Rutgers, in spite of the fact that they rarely won!

Bill was an easy-going, kind, gentle, happy man with a great smile and sense of humor, a real gentleman, faithful and true. Though very accomplished, he was humble and had no trouble laughing at himself. Bill loved his family and friends and took great delight in being a prankster at times.

He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Rosanne; sister Marilyn Unger and husband Nick; brother David Beam and wife Laura; sister-in-law Louise Hammerl and husband Paul; Nieces: Gena Beam, Laura Tietema, Susan Muzer, Christine Bauer and nephews: Bruce Campbell and Jason Unger. He is also survived by many friends who loved him.

God hooked a beautiful man who will be missed terribly. Semper Fi, Bill.

A celebration of Bill’s life will be held on November 9th at noon in the Laguna Beach Presbyterian Church.

Donations in memory of Bill may be made to the Semper Fi Fund ( or to a charity of your choice.

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

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Thursday, November 9, 2023

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Pacific time)

Laguna Beach Presbyterian Church

415 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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