Merrill Edgar Beecher
Albina Stella Cizek
August Henry Ploen
Linda Katharine Bauer
Wesley Merrill Beecher
Phyllis Wilma Ploen
Sharon Lee Beecher


Family Links
1. Claire Leroy Beecher & Ruby Josephine Eubanks
2. Wesley Merrill Beecher & Phyllis Wilma Ploen

1. Richard G. Israel

2. O'Connor

Sharon Lee Beecher 1 2 3 4 5 6

  • Born: 6 Jan 1949, Des Moines, Polk, IA 4
  • Marriage (1): Richard G. Israel on 12 Jan 1974 in Crawfordsville, Washington, IA
  • Marriage (2): O'Connor
  • Died: 30 Mar 2020, Commerce, Jackson, GA, USA at age 71 7

   FamilySearch ID: LF2L-T89.

  General Notes:

Sharon was 3 when her parents & brother died. She was adopted by her father's elder brother, Wesley Merrill Beecher in Iowa.

  Noted events in her life were:

1. Fact: When she was 3 she was adopted by her uncle Wesley Beecher after her parents and brother perished in a house fire.

2. Census in 1950 in Des Moines, Polk, IA. 8 The 1950 census recorded at 1723 East 32nd Street: Claire L. Beecher, industrial engineer for rubber manufacturer, 27, living with wife Josephine, 28, and daughter Sharon L., 1. Claire was born in Iowa, Josephine in Georgia, and Sharon in Iowa.

3. Newspaper: Iowa City Press-Citizen: Girl, 3, Left Alone After Fire, Will Come to Iowa, 26 Jan 1952, Iowa City, Johnson, IA. 2 ATLANTA (AP) -- A three-year-old girl, who still does know that a fire which burned her severely also took the lives of her parents and baby brother, will fly alone today to reach her grandparent' home in Traer, Iowa.

Red-haired, blue-eyed Sharon Lee Beecher will be discharged from a hospital today. She was burned in a fire which destroyed her home and took the lives of her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Claire Beecher, and her 10-month-old brother. Thomas Merrill Beecher, January 12.

Members of the Shrine mounted patrol of Atlanta's Yaarab temple learned that Sharon had no relatives here. They made arrangements to send her to her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. M. E. Beecher, in Traer.

Sharon will leave Atlanta at 5:55 p. m. (CST) today in the care of an airlines stewardess. Shriners and their wives will meet her in Chicago, keep her overnight and put her on a westbound plane Sunday morning.

"She's a shy little thing," said Shriner Fred Cannon. "We didn't want to frighten her more so we gave her a fez to play with all day Friday so she would not be afraid when Shriners come out along the route to help her."

Her father was an engineer at Lockheed Aircraft Corp. He was burned to death in the fire. The mother kicked a panel of glass from the front door to carry her children to safety. She died two days later and the baby shortly afterwards.

4. Newspaper: Des Moines Register: Parents Dead, Sharon Flying To New Home, 27 Jan 1952, Des Moines, Polk, IA. 9 Parents Dead, Sharon Flying To New Home
(photos of Sharon Lee Beecher, her parents)
TRAER, IA. Little Sharon Beecher will start a long visit with her "Gram" and "Gramps" here today -- this time all alone. Her mother and daddy and baby brother, Tommy, won't be with her. They died recently, victims of a fire that destroyed their home In Atlanta, Ga.
The 3-year-old child had a long way to come to see her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. M. E. Beecher -- 1,200 miles by plane from Atlanta.
She came most of the way alone, starting early Saturday evening. Her uncle, Wes Beecher, also of Traer, met her in Chicago, Ill., to fly with her to Waterloo.
Bandaged Hands.
Sharon's small hands will be wrapped in neat bandages when she steps off the plane at 10 this morning into the soothing arms of her grandparents.
Her hair, "the brightest red hair you ever saw," her grandfather boasted sadly, will be singed short and her face temporarily scarred.
"But she'll be all right soon," Mrs. Beecher said.
The grandparents realize that it's going to take some time for Sharon to become the "chatty little thing" they once knew. She's "scared," they said, "and bewildered."
People have been kind to her, but they've all been strangers.
Shriners arranged for her transportation home when they learned she had no relatives In Atlanta. A stewardess cared for her on the long flight.
Familiar Face.
But her uncle's face Saturday was the first familiar one she had seen since the first few days after the fire. Sharon, just released from the hospital, was badly burned in the fire. Her father, Claire, 28, died first. Then her mother, Josephine, 29, a few days later, and then her 9-month-old brother, Tommy.
The fire on Jan. 12 destroyed the home and furnishings. Only a charred photograph was salvaged.
Sharon will be staying a long time with her grandparents -- probably until she's a grown-up.
Her new home will be a warm white house with maroon shutters and a picture window that looks out at the sun. She'll have a small, but comfortable, yard to play in this spring.
Hobby Horse, Blocks.
She'll also have a small playmate right in the house -- her cousin David, 14 months, who has lots of toys she can play with, including a hobby horse, blocks, a bright ball and a peg board. David is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Beecher, who are living with the grandparents, too.
Besides David, Sharon will be able to play with Uncle Wes' son, who is 2 ½ years old, and her "Gramps."
Her "Gramps" is a station agent at Dinsdale. He has white hair and he's 60, but he likes to get down on the floor and play with his grandchildren.
Beecher thoughtfully cuddled David Saturday while he spoke of his dead son. David is the son of Richard Beecher, who is staying with his father. Beecher recalled he used to go fishing with his son, Claire, "almost every week while he was living in Des Moines." For three years his son, "Penny," as Beecher called him, lived in Des Moines working for the Armstrong Rubber Manufacturing Co. He lived at 1723 E. Thirty-second St., Beecher recalled.
Bought a Farm.
Then, about a year ago, Beecher said, "Penny" decided to buy a farm in Alabama.
The farm, about 120 acres, didn't go too well right away, he said, so "Penny" went to work for Lockheed Aircraft Co. in Atlanta to earn some money for the farm.
Big Plans.
"He had big plans," Beecher said.
Beecher and his wife, gray-haired and soft-spoken, were visiting a doctor's office in Waterloo when they received the news of the fire.
"We went right down to Atlanta, but Penny was already dead. Jo (Josephine) talked to the other boys (Wes and Rlchard), but didn't have a chance to say anything to us," Beecher said.
"We never saw Penny, but maybe it was just as well."
Little Sharon, Beecher said, seemed to sense something was wrong, because "she never asked for her father."
Arrange Funeral.
Tommy was in serious condition when the Beechers returned to Traer to arrange funeral services, but they thought he'd live, Beecher said.
They received word the child was dead shortly after arriving home.
Mrs. Beecher explained that the whole family was still "numb and a little shocked" at the tragedy.
"It broke up our little circle," her husband added. "We still can't realize it. Down there in Atlanta. I expected to run into Penny around every corner.
Buried Near Traer.
"We were close," he said. "I'll remember him especially this May. I had my vacation fixed so I could go down and spend a week with him."
The young family is buried in a cemetery near Traer, Beecher said. When Sharon gets older, he said, he'll show her the graves and explain things to her.
Having Sharon with them will help ease the shock of the tragedy her grandfather said, but "I will never forget."

5. Newspaper: Iowa City Press-Citizen: Little Girl Flies to New Home, 28 Jan 1952, Iowa City, Johnson, IA. 3 Parents, Brother Dead in Fire --
Little Girl Flies to New Home

Traer (AP) -- Little Sharon Lee Beecher, 3, still recovering from severe burns received in a fire which took the lives of her mother and father and baby brother, started a new life in Traer today.

The red-haired girl arrived at her grandparents' home here Sunday after a 1,200-mile air trip from Atlanta, Ga.

Sharon lost her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Claire Beecher, and her brother, Tommy, as the result of a fire that destroyed their home in Atlanta, January 12.

The two persons she fondly refers to as "Gram" and "Grampa" -- Mr. and Mrs. M. E. Beecher of Traer -- now will be mother and father, too.

Sharon, her burned hands swathed in bandages, was carried off an airplan Sunday by her uncle, Wes Beecher, at Waterloo airport, 24 miles north of here.

The Beechers spent a long and tense day awaiting the arrival of their granddaughter.

A crowd of almost 300 persons was at the Waterloo airport to greet Sharon. Shriners from Traer, Waterloo and Cedar Falls presented her with two dolls. It was the Shriners in Atlanta who first started Sharon on her journey to her new "home."

She flew from Atlanta to Chicago alone Saturday, and was met there by her uncle who accompanied her to Traer.

6. Newspaper: The Courier: Dinsdale, Hudson Teams in Benefit for Beecher Girl, 5 Feb 1952, Waterloo, Black Hawk, IA, USA. Dinsdale, Ia. - Proceeds from the gate of the Dinsdale-Hudson high school basketball game to be played here next Tuesday night will go to three-year-old Sharon Lee Beecher, who lost her parents in a Georgia fire recently.
The Dinsdale Consolidated school board designated the game as a Sharon Lee Beecher benefit fund. The little girl, now a patient in Allen Memorial hospital of Waterloo where she underwent a skin grafting operation to correct injusry suffered in the fire, returned to Iowa to live with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Beecher in nearby Traer, Ia.
Beecher is the depot agent in Dinsdale. Sharon Lee's father, the late Penny Beecher, was born in Dinsdale and attended the school here. Her grandfather is a former secretary of the school board.

7. Newspaper: The Courier: Popperjack and Sharon Lee, Girl and Dog, Are Reunited, 16 Mar 1952, Waterloo, Black Hawk, IA, USA. 10 Popperjack and Sharon Lee, Girl and Dog, Are Reunited
A wooly spaniel dog, Popperjack, is bringing cheer these days into the life at Traer of Sharon Lee Beecher, wistful little three-year-old redhead whose parents and baby brother lost their lives Jan. 12 at a fire at Atlanta, Ga. The girl and her dog were reunited at Traer where Sharon has been making her home with her "gram and gramps," the M. E. Beechers. It was Grandpa Beecher who originally sent Popperjack to Atlanta as a gift for Sharon. The dog was outside when the home was destroyed by a disastrous fire that resulted in death for Mr. and Mrs. Claire L. Beecher and their infant son, Thomas. Sharon and the dog were the lone survivors of the blaze. Sharon's right hand is still bandaged as a result of skin-grafting surgery performed at a Waterloo hospital soon after her arrival by airplane from Atlanta. She's reported recovering nicely and has made scores of friends at her new home at Traer. As a result of the tragedy surrounding the little girl's life, she has received many letters and cards and gifts, too, from folks throughout this section. Young as she is, they make her happy and thankful to be here in Iowa far removed from the scene of the drama that left her an orphan. But it's a special source of delight for her to have Popperjack a pal again. He was just a wee pup when first sent to Sharon. He seems to be more playful than ever since getting back to romp with his little owner. The animal was shipped to Traer by the Atlanta Shriners, the same group that provided funds for Sharon's plane trip to Waterloo and accommodations en route.

8. She was educated at University of Iowa.

9. Residence: 3571 Post Oak Trail, Norcross, GA 30092 in 1993 in Norcross, Gwinnett, GA, USA. 11

10. Occupation: Teacher on 10 Sep 2006 in Hoschton, Jackson, GA.

11. Residence: on 10 Sep 2006 in Hoschton, Jackson, GA. 5

12. Residence: 1432 Wyntercreek Dr., Hoschoton, GA 30548 in 2009 in Hoschton, Jackson, GA. 4

13. Obituary: on 30 Mar 2020 in Commerce, Jackson, GA, USA. 12 Ms. Sharon Lee Beecher, age 71, of Commerce passed away on Monday, March 30, 2020 at Bountiful Hills. Ms. Beecher was born in Iowa to the late, Claire Leroy and Ruby Josephine Eubanks Beecher. She was raised by Wesley and Phyllis Beecher. She was a retired school psychologist at Gwinnett County School System.
Ms. Beecher is survived by her son, Niall O'Connor of Commerce; brother, Richard Beecher of Texas.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Little-Ward Funeral Home, Commerce is in charge of arrangements.

Sharon married Richard G. Israel on 12 Jan 1974 in Crawfordsville, Washington, IA. The marriage ended in divorce. (Richard G. Israel was born on 18 Aug 1952 in Des Moines, Polk, IA.)

Sharon next married O'Connor.


1 Rome News-Tribune (Rome, Floyd, Georgia.), 15 Jan 1952, page 1. Mrs. Beecher, Victim of Fire, Dies in Atlanta. Online

2 Iowa City Press-Citizen (Iowa City, Iowa.), 26 Jan 1952, page 1.

3 Iowa City Press-Citizen (Iowa City, Iowa.), 28 Jan 1952, page 8.

4, United States Public Records, 1970-2009, Sharon Beecher Israel, Residence, Hoschton, Georgia, United States; a third party aggregator of publicly available information.

5 Amarillo Globe-News (Amarillo, Potter, Texas), 10 Sep 2006. Obituary of Wesley M. "Wes" Beecher.

6 Dubuque Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA), 12 Oct 2003, obituary of Rebecca L. Beecher.

7 Atlanta Journal Consitution (Atlanta, GA), 1 Apr 2020, page B6.

8 "1950 United States Census," Claire L Beecher Des Moines IA.

9 The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, IA), 27 Jan 1952, page 1 and page 8.

10 The Courier (Waterloo, IA), 16 Mar 1952, page 11.

11, U.S. Public Records Index (Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings.), Sharon Beecher Israel b. Jan 1949 residence 1993 Norcross GA.

12 "Little-Ward Funeral Home (Commerce, GA),"!/Obituary.

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