Life Stories

A legacy of hard work and hope

CORRESPONDENTJanuary 30, 2012 

While attending grade school in the mountains of North Carolina, a young Rose Beach, then Rose Wilson, never once missed a day of school. She would go on to have the same attendance record during her 42-year career at the Angus Barn in Raleigh, never once calling in sick.

Van Eure, the daughter of the Angus Barn's original owners, was just 5 when she met Beach. She became owner of the restaurant in 1988 when her father died suddenly.

Over the time she worked with Rose, be it under her as a server in college, or as her boss, they always got along.

"When I look back on my relationships with every person that I've ever worked with in my life, I cannot think of one person, except for Rose, that I have never ever had one disagreement with," Eure said.

Which is not to say Beach was a pushover. She was known for being loving, but also firm and consistent in her management style, not unlike the way she raised her six children.

Beach died this month from complications of Parkinson's disease - a diagnosis she kept private from her employers as long as she could. At 84, she left a legacy of hard work and dedication to her family, something her children say they will marvel over the rest of their lives.

Beach was born in the Beaver Dam community of Watauga County, the fifth of six children.

"She was a lot of fun," said her older sister, Elizabeth Clouse of Wisconsin. "She was always very active."

Her parents were tobacco farmers. When she was a child, her father managed to rig electricity to the house by constructing a water wheel and wiring the apparatus himself.

Beach's children say they were well into their teens before they can recall visiting their grandparents and having indoor plumbing. Rose and her siblings had chores, helped pick tobacco and learned early that family does what family has to do to survive.

This way of life was carried over to Beach's own family. She married her husband of 57 years, Claude Beach, in 1946 and the two left their family in the mountains for Raleigh in the hopes of greater work opportunity.

Claude Beach was a carpenter by trade and was eventually able to provide for his family by working for the state.

In the 1950s, the couple purchased a home with some acreage near where the North Carolina Museum of Art now stands.

As their families had done before, the Beaches grew as much food as they could, and Rose Beach could often be found canning or freezing food for the family.

When her children were a bit older, Beach decided it was in the family's best interest for her to work full time. As a result, not one of her six children had to take out loans to attend college, said daughter Patricia Beach.

Rose Beach was the first employee hired at the Angus Barn, and she moved up from server to senior dining room manager during her 42 years in service.

"It wasn't the food, it was the people," that kept Beach working there so long, Patricia Beach said. Eure's father set a high standard for them, and "she believed in that standard of customer service."

"Rose helped to really lay the foundation for what the Angus Barn is today," Van Eure said.

The Beaches welcomed their first grandchildren while still in their 40s, and at that point were able to relax a bit.

"When the grandchildren came along, Mom and Dad learned how to 'play' again," Patricia Beach said. "They adored their grandkids."

Before she retired, Beach and her husband built a lake house, which was likely more for their children's enjoyment than their own, said her only son, Jimmy Beach.

At her funeral service, Pastor Tom Vestal, a family friend and previous head of Mt. Olivet Church, where Rose Beach was a longtime member, reflected that in the decades he had known Beach, not once had he ever heard anyone say anything negative about her.

For someone who had worked so hard her entire life, Beach still had the energy to be a source of light and hope for others.

"You could be at your lowest point and discouraged and be at the end of the your rope, almost, and you could go in the room where she was," her sister said. "Five minutes after you were there, you were laughing."

eshestak@mac.com

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