The Greatest Generation ~ William B. Beebe (1919-1981)

This is the official unveiling of the college portrait I painted of my Dad.  My previous blog entitled, “Dreams of Finishing My Father” explained that I decided to finish the painting I did of my Dad after 33 years.  Originally, I wanted to maintain the overall feel of the original painting, put on the finishing touches that would allow me to be happy enough with the painting and have it out on display.  I’ve been “touching it up” now for a week or two!  I tried to keep with the realistic, traditional look that I had in college and was close to being finished, when next thing I knew I was revamping the whole thing.

I ended up deciding that because of my Dad’s rather intense nature, strong personality and facial features that I would try painting it in a bolder style.  I went a little more painterly than I intended, letting some non-traditional portrait colors like violet and green compliment the flesh tones.  The result is a more contemporary, stylized feel when examining the painting up close.  Meaning, the skin tones are not as blended as they would be in a photo realistic painting.  It allowed me to have some fun with it and make it look like a painting and not a photographic image.

So here it is, William B. Beebe, Esq.  It was a self-indulgent exercise, long overdue.  It made me feel good.  It brought back many memories. I’m enjoying having Dad around to look at.  I used to wonder how many people would want to have a portrait of a family member around.  I wondered if portraits were passé, something found at estate sales.  I never thought of portraiture as something for our walls, until recently. 

My Dad was part of “the Greatest Generation”.  He was born and raised on a farm in Iowa.  He was so smart that he graduated high-school two years early. He learned French from his mother, Latin in school, played the bassoon to help develop his lungs after having Scarlet Fever as a child, and played baseball in college until he threw out his arm.  He was a glider pilot in WWII, a pilot of small planes after the war, a CPA, a lawyer and founding partner in his law firm, who on occasion argued in front of the Supreme Court.  

He married and had four children. He was a skilled woodworker, a baseball coach with a depth of knowledge about the nuances of the game, a great Dad and the smartest well-rounded person I’ve ever known.  He was brilliant with math.  He knew how to use all of the fancy buttons on the original Hewlett-Packard hand held calculator to calculate how many miles it is to the moon, or how long it would take if traveling various speeds, or any other mathematical equation you put in front of him.

He died when I was only 25 and I often think of him and wish I had had many more years with him.  He was old school and we all respected and loved him.  He stood for everything good. He was my idol.


Now, as I get older I’m looking at portraiture differently.  Maybe it’s the sentimental side of me.  This posthumous exercise has made me feel closer to my Dad.  He would have appreciated the way I toiled over his likeness while at the same time trying to be creative.  Even if it’s not a spitting image, when I look at it my memories become less faded and now the slight smile is on my face too!