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Bill Thayer

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The text that follows is reproduced from (the report of the) Seventy-first Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 10, 1940.

[image ALT: A head-and‑shoulders photograph of an old man. He wears a shirt and tie and a suit jacket. He has somewhat wavy hair, prominent eyebrows, and a benevolent expression. He is Guy Roosevelt Beardslee, the subject of this webpage.]

 p114  Guy Roosevelt Beardslee
No. 2826 Class of 1879
Died January 15, 1939, at Miami, Florida, aged 82 years.

Guy Roosevelt Beardslee was born October 24, 1856, at East Creek, New York, a spot to which his grandfather and great grandfather migrated from Sharon, Connecticut, about 1790. They settled on what was then a far western frontier, now the center of New York State, where the subject of this sketch lived until his death.

 p115  The younger of the two original Beardslees became an important figure in the Mohawk Valley; he was an engineer and builder, of whom brief and interesting accounts may be found in any Valley history. He bequeathed many of his qualities and gifts to his grandson, who was later quite as important in his locality.

The family was of unmixed English blood except for one Dutch line, through a grandmother, of the Roosevelt family of Theodore's branch. For her the boy was named Roosevelt. Later, after a visit to Warwick Castle where he conceived a great admiration for the Earl, he added Guy to his name, and, unknown to his parents, got himself baptized, selecting his own sponsors — all with an amusing and rather surprising amount of initiative which was a forerunner of his later career.

His first school was the little brick one at East Creek where the maps hung on a south wall, and he always maintained that this fact gave a permanent twist to his sense of direction. When he was ten or eleven his parents took him to France, where he spent about a year in school at Tours. Next he attended a public school in Little Falls, New York, where he boarded in a clergyman's family and had the opportunity for that independent adventure in baptism.

After that he spent several years at a well known boys' school in New York — Charlier's — and later was appointed to the U. S. Military Academy, from which he graduated in the Class of '79. He saw service in Fort Sidney, Nebraska, and took part in the building of Fort Niobrara. He resigned from the Army December 27, 1880, drawn by two desires: to study singing in Italy, and to develop the water power on the East Canada Creek, which possibility had induced his grandfathers to settle at that point a hundred years earlier, when they had built their mills there.

He did spend several years in Italy to the great advantage of a beautiful baritone voice — a voice that was a well remembered pleasure to all his old friends.

Then came the next development, more absorbing and difficult and practical than developing the voice, the hydro-electric plant at East Creek. That story is too long to tell here, but it is full of satisfaction. It was his life's best contribution to his day, as much a pioneer work as any his grandfather did; it is not difficult to find an account of it elsewhere. He did virtually all of the engineering and development himself, in a way which reflected credit to his Alma Mater. One classmate, looking over the achievement, remarked,  p116 "Well, Billy may have graduated in 'The Immortals', but he's done an engineer's work here!'

On September 24, 1895, at Oswego, New York, he was married to Miss Ethel Grant Shriver of Baltimore.

He was an industrious man, and after selling the hydro-electric plant in 1910 occupied himself in many ways, always preferring work with his hands. His pleasures and interests were music and travel and people, and the last years of his life were divided between East Creek and Miami, where he died on January 15, 1939.

It was a well rounded, happy life of valuable work, well done, of enough recognition, and of an overflowing measure of friendship.

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Page updated: 3 Apr 16