Paul Beans was born September 15, 1944. He entered into eternal life May 24, 2017. Paul is a grandpa, great-grandpa, uncle, brother, friend and dad. Though he was becoming older, his mind and his stamina proved otherwise. His daily life was filled with boat rides, snow machine rides, truck rides and loved to update family and friends about weather conditions, as our rural activity and subsistence livelihoods depend solely on Mother Nature.
Over the span of his 72 years Paul always made sure he set an “under the ice” net. He constantly checked net for two things (to ease his mind, and to enjoy the harvest.) Paul spoke fondly of his spring camp dwelling and adventures of his younger days. He was given a map of their family camp area, it jogged his memory of who inhabited the area and what their diets consisted of.
He recently came into the Mt. Village Elementary Yupik classroom where he explained to the students how his young life was filled with splendorous challenges and how they faced and overcame them. Paul commented that he was 26 years old when he caught his first moose; imagine how exhilarating that may have been! Being an avid outdoorsman, Paul taught his oldest son, Cletus how to hunt and fish at a young age. The torch has been passed onto his grandson Matthew; who was gifted all of grandpa’s artillery and cutlery to carry on this rich tradition.
In 1966, Paul was drafted into the military. His service had taken him to Vietnam, into a chapter of his life most memorable to him; he expressed many things over the years relating to this. As the years passed, his service became more and more important to him. During every business and personal trip he proudly wore “Vietnam Vet” t-shirts or caps. Cletus, Boyce and Charlotte ellangeq as young children hearing him say he wanted his medals to follow him. Paul’s return home from Vietnam was not publicized nor celebrated; he carried a 60 pound bag off the plane and walked home to the end of town without a Hero’s welcome. A gesture of pride is his recent lifetime membership to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Bethel Post with the help of Buck Bukowski.
Before his tour began, he met my mom, Olga. We know this not because he spoke of it, but because we find his printed photos addressed and expressed to her. Paul and Olga married three times; in the Bethel Courthouse, in the Russian Orthodox Church, and in the Catholic Church. Their union abruptly ended when she passed in 1981. Though Olga’s passing was difficult for all of us, we all overcame the challenges this brought into our lives. After all these years, Dad spoke of Mom and how greatly he missed the love of his life.
Paul enjoyed being able to fly and visit new places. As the years passed, he traveled to many destinations near and far. He would return from his trips with souvenirs and memorabilia for his family, more often than not, t-shirts from the place he just visited. His travels took him to villages and towns within Alaska and the lower 48 for different conventions and conferences.
Just as much as he loved to travel, Paul loved having the most up to date technologies and gadgets. He would often surf the internet to see what new gismo he could get his hands on. Paul often scrolled through Facebook and posted pictures of various things, from sunsets to activities he did with family.
He will always be remembered for his intelligence, his humor, his wittiness, his generosity, his wisdom, his love of the land, and his service to this country. Each one of you have sad and happy, amazing and unique, fun filled and exciting memories of Paul, please tuck those neatly into your hearts, as his passing is quite difficult to endure. It just leaves us with a saying that reflects the lives of he and his surviving family members: “you don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
The following organizations have helped immensely, and deserve recognition: City of Mountain Village, Asa’carsarmiut Tribe, Azachorok, Inc., Calista Corporation, and Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association. We also appreciate the help of the following individuals: John Tikiun, Jr, Harvey Alexie, Edward Aguchak, Sr., Alexander Beans, Joseph Beans, Jr., Willie Beans, Jacob Long, Paul Long, Howard Peterson, Francis Hess, Mark Bean.
To all Paul’s family and friends who comforted us with telephone calls, visits, food, song, and prayers: we are eternally grateful. His life and memory will be celebrated on the 4th of July in Mountain Village.