Robert Beh Obituary

Robert J. Beh
Robert J. Beh

August 27, 1931 - March 2, 2023
Born in Des Moines, Iowa
Resided in Urbandale, Iowa
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Obituary

Dad really disliked the phrase passed away. He’d say, “Where are they passing? They didn’t pass anywhere. They just died! Say it like it is.” So, with that, we announce that Robert James Beh died on March 2, 2023.

He wasn’t sick. There was no big dramatic exit. Very simply, he had won the race of life, outpacing his beloved siblings and countless friends, to his dismay. A man with nine lives, he lived and loved each one of those lives to the fullest, and to the extent that his 91-year-old body could handle no more.

Bob, as he was known, came into the world on August 27, 1931, to parents Carleton and Marie Beh. He grew up in Des Moines, Iowa; went to high school at Campion in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin; and attended his first love, University of Notre Dame where he graduated with honors in 1952. Soon after, Bob was drafted into the Army. He attended the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio in Monterey, California where he learned to speak fluent Korean before serving as a Korean War intelligence officer in Tokyo and Seoul, South Korea. Bob completed his service as a Second Lieutenant in 1955 and returned home to work in his father’s municipal bond firm, the Carleton D. Beh Company, a company for which he was very proud.

As a young man in his twenties, Bob threw a party at his family home one weekend, drawing old friends and new. It was that night that a lovely young woman, Lois Carroll, walked through the doors and changed Bob’s life. By the end of the party, Bob told his sister DeeDee that he had met the girl he was going to marry. Lois, a Des Moines native, was teaching in Wisconsin at the time, which then led her to California, and (almost) Germany. But Bob pursued her tirelessly, which eventually brought Lois back to Des Moines. The two were married on July 30, 1960, and had their first child, Laura Therese, the following August. Four more kids followed soon after: Brian Carroll, John Shannon, Marie Florence, and Caroline Ann.

The Beh family spent many summers at their cabin just off the Gunflint Trail in the north woods of Minnesota, a cabin he bought sight unseen sitting in the bar at Johnny’s Vets Club. A lover of nature, Bob enjoyed calling out to the loons on Hungry Jack Lake and listening for their response. They did not disappoint. The Beh family also spent many summers at the Wakonda Club—Lois playing tennis, Bob golfing, and the kids charging food and drinks to their member number—a set of three digits known only second to their birthdates, even today.

In 1978, Lois gave birth to their sixth child, Elizabeth Anne, which launched a new chapter for the couple. The Beh Company was sold in the late 1980s at which time Bob, Lois, and Elizabeth moved to downtown Chicago. Bob continued his work in municipal finance for Kemper Securities and Clayton Brown & Associates. For eight years they took advantage of everything Chicago had to offer, including a wonderful troupe of friends with whom they explored the world—lovingly known as a drinking group with a traveling problem.

In 1996, the family moved back to Des Moines and Bob settled into retirement enjoying time with his kids and grandkids, walking Grey’s Lake with good friend John Leachman, and sitting on the patio with Lois in their illustrious backyard—she with a Chardonnay, he with a Dewars and soda, a plate of Saga blue cheese and crackers between them—taking in the sounds of the water garden and whistling back and forth with the birds.

If dad could be summarized into a single word, it would be passionate. He was passionate about education which motivated him to put all six of us kids through college. He was passionate about sports. Not just the two holes in one he made at Wakonda, but the understanding of healthy competition and applying that throughout life. He was passionate about religion and having faith in something bigger than ourselves. He could cry telling you about an episode of The West Wing but call him to say your baby girl has leukemia and he’s not only the first one by your side in the hospital, but he’s completely unbreakable and indelible. He was passionate about his family and friends. He loved deeply which always made him your biggest fan. Most of all, he was passionate about his wife.

In the days preceding his death, when his body began to let go of life and his mind grew vague, he asked our mom one simple question, “Was I good to you?”

Yes. Thank you for everything dad. We love you way up to the sky.

A visitation will be held on Saturday, April 8 at St. Augustin Church in Des Moines, Iowa from 1-2pm. A funeral service will follow at 2pm with a reception in the Parish Hall immediately after. In lieu of flowers, donate to your favorite charity; give the gift of arts, education, sports; or go make a memory with family and friends.

Love,

Laura Beh Kennedy, husband Hugh, their children Sarah (Bri) and Charlie (Emily) and great grandchild, Cameron. Brian Beh, wife Merritt, their children Addison, Megan, and Lauren. John Beh, his children Shannon and Max. Marie Beh Buckhout, husband Scott, their children Hannah, Sammie, and Katie. Carrie Beh Monaghan, husband Pat, their children Karley (Carter), Abby, and Lily. Elizabeth Beh Garvey, husband John, their children Thomas and Simone. And the love of his life, Lois.








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Visitation
St. Augustin Catholic Church
545 42nd Street
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Saturday, April 8, 2023
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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Memorial Mass
St. Augustin Catholic Church
545 42nd Street
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Saturday, April 8, 2023
2:00 PM
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Burial
Private