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Marianna Kistler Beach

Philanthropist. Born: November 24, 1919, Lincoln, Kansas.  Died: November 1, 2014, Lawrence, Kansas.

Marianna Kistler Beach was born on November 24, 1919, in Lincoln, Kansas to parents Elmer Levi and Myrtle Mae (Skinner) Kistler.  Her parents moved the family to Manhattan in 1934 so their children could have a college education.

Beach graduated from Manhattan High School in 1937. She went on to graduate from Kansas State University 1941 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her time at K-State was filled with many activities. She was a member of Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Phi Journalism Honorary and Mortar Board. She was also highly involved in the student committee that sought to gain approval from the legislature for use of student fees to enable construction of the Kansas State Student Union.

She married Ross Beach on June 1, 1941. The couple resided in Hays until they moved to Lawrence in 2000.  They had three daughters, Mary (Beach) McDowell, Terry (Beach) Edwards, and Jane (Beach) Hipp.

She was well traveled and fought hard for the causes she believed in, even going so far as to learn Spanish and French. The Spanish allowed her to speak with locals on her trips to Latin and South America.

Although Beach was involved in numerous organizations, one of her main devotions was to helping those with special needs. She was the U. S. representative to the Directing Council of the Inter American Children’s Institute, and later served as president; a representative of Partners of the Americas; on the president’s committee, and chair of a subcommittee, for people with intellectual disabilities; vice chair of the Kansas Special Olympics and vice president of the Kansas Association for Mental Health.

Beach Center for Families and Disabilities at the University of Kansas is named in her honor.  She is also the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from Fort Hays State University, The Alumni Medallion Award from Kansas State University, the Distinguished Service Citation from the University of Kansas, the Kansan of Distinction from Topeka Daily Capital, Kansan of the Year from Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas in 1988, and Volunteer of the Year from People to People. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art located on the campus of Kansas State University was established in honor of her and her husband’s 50th wedding anniversary. 

She earned her private pilot’s license at the age of 45. She also attended weekly conversation groups to keep up her French and Spanish.

Beach died on November 1, 2014, in Lawrence.

Entry: Marianna Kistler Beach

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2016

Date Modified: July 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.