Melinda Brown Beard
March 25, 1937 – May 5, 2018
Melinda Beard, age 81 never followed rules she felt shouldn’t apply to her, and that included the primary law of physics. If you insist that energy can’t be created, only conserved, then you never met her. Melinda was her own force of nature. She lived and loved ferociously and brought that love – that energy that really did seem to be self-created – to every human being she touched, and to every project she took on as her own. She was a Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate (which she never tired of reminding her messy children when being required to stoop to the level of picking up after them) of Connecticut College for Women, and earned a Masters in her beloved English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh. Until her children were born, she taught literature at Pitt, at Winchester Thurston, and to a special class of writing students in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Once her children reached school age, she taught literature at the dining room table, where the classes included not just her children, but their best friends and classmates, most of whom called her “Mom” and meant it. She was a past president of The Junior League of Pittsburgh, where she oversaw the creation of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Poetry Forum, eventually luring such luminaries as Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Galway Kinnell to Pittsburgh to read. As one of the founders of Vintage, Pittsburgh’s premier center for active seniors, she raised the funds that established Vintage’s first home in the basement of the East End Christian Church in East Liberty, spearheaded the fundraising again when they moved to their current home on North Highland Avenue, and then again when Vintage purchased and annexed the adjacent former Giant Eagle East Liberty location. As the long-time treasurer of the Fox Chapel District Association, she was both the matriarch and the bean counter who oversaw the transformation of the Fox Chapel Follies from a break-even community event to one that raised more than a half million dollars on her watch for local community projects and charities, including the Cooper Siegel Libraries in Fox Chapel and Sharpsburg, the Laurie Ann West Community Center, the trails at Squaw Valley Park, and the Aspinwall Riverfront Park. She will be remembered for all of those things, yes, but she will be remembered most for the thousands of lives she touched. In any other context, that would not only be an exaggeration, but a cliché to be stricken by her brutally honest red pen. In the case of Melinda Beard, it represents the use of one of her favorite literary devices: understatement. If you met Melinda once, she knew everything important about you, and you knew precisely how she felt about all of it. If you were with her more than a handful of times, she probably loved you, and you probably felt it. Melinda is survived by her brother, Ben Brown; by her King Arthur and husband of almost 58 years, Philip; by her children, Philip (Traci) Beard II, Amanda (Greg) Schaffer, Beau (Christine) Beard and Priscilla (Jo) Baker; by the truest joys of her life – her grandchildren, Cali Binstock, Maddy and Phoebe Beard, Kaitlyn and Hannah Schaffer, Zoe and Nate Beard, and Tyler and Jack Baker; by her great-grandchildren, Levi and Jude Binstock; and by her favorite place on earth, Van Buren Bay on Lake Erie. Perhaps most important, she is survived by all of the energy and love she created. In accordance with the laws of physics, which can now resume their dominion in her absence, that love can never be destroyed.
Friends will be received at Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home, 100 Center Avenue, Aspinwall, on Thursday, May 10, 2018 from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM. A Memorial celebration of Melinda’s life will be held at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, 384 Fox Chapel Road, Pittsburgh, 15238, on Friday, May 11th at 2:00 pm. The family will welcome friends at a reception afterward at The Fox Chapel Golf Club, 426 Fox Chapel Road, Pittsburgh, PA, from 3:30 PM until 5:30 PM. Gifts in lieu of flowers should be made to either: Vintage, 421 N. Highland Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206; or The Neighborhood Academy, 709 N. Aiken Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206.
Donations may be made to:
421 N. Highland Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15206
The Neighborhood Acamedy
709 N. Aiken Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15206