Coleman Nagle Beecher
Ellen C. Donagan
Harry Cake Schreck
Mary Catherine Mamie Zwayer
Eugene Coleman Beecher
Florence Mamie Schreck
Francis Eugene "Franny" Beecher Sr.


Family Links

1. Florence Theresa Organtini

Francis Eugene "Franny" Beecher Sr. 1 2 3

  • Born: 29 Sep 1921, Norristown, Montgomery, PA 1 2 3
  • Marriage (1): Florence Theresa Organtini
  • Died: 24 Feb 2014, , Montgomery, PA at age 92 2 3

   Another name for Francis was Franny Beecher.

   FamilySearch ID: KC9N-CN8.

  Noted events in his life were:

1. Fact: Franny Beecher's biography is published online at Wikipedia.

2. Census in 1930 in Norristown, Montgomery, PA. 4 The 1930 census recorded Norman H. Lougharn, 40, living with wife Florence M., 35; step-sons Ellsworth Z. Beecher, 13; Francis E. Beecher, 8; and daughter Norma H. Lougharn, 0. Everyone was born in Pennsylvania.

3. Census in 1940 in Norristown, Montgomery, PA. 5 The 1940 census recorded Norman Lougharn, taxi driver, 50, living with wife Florence M., 45; daughter Norma Lougharn, 10; son Harry Lougharn, 8; and stepsons Ellsworth Beecher, bag maker in paper co., 23; and Francis Beecher, presser in fiber co., 18. Everyone was born in Pennsylvania.

4. Military on 26 Jan 1943 in Allentown, Lehigh, PA: World War II enlisted. His enlistment record:

Name:Francis E Beecher
Birth Year:1921
Race:White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country:Pennsylvania
County or City:Montgomery
Enlistment Date:26 Jan 1943
Enlistment State:Pennsylvania
Enlistment City:Allentown
Branch:Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code:Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Grade Code:Private
Term of Enlistment:Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component:Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source:Civil Life
Education:2 years of college
Marital Status:Married

5. Census in 1950 in Norristown, Montgomery, PA. 6 The 1950 census recorded Francis Beecher Sr., no occupation, 27, living with wife Florence, practical nurse at state institute, 23; and their son Francis Jr., 8. They were living in the home of Florence's father, Alfonse Organtini, beater man at abestos manfacturing factory, 49, and his wife Helen, 43; with their son Albert, spinning machine helper at rug factory, 22, and daughter Gerladine, 3. Alfonse and Helen were born in Italy, the others in Pennsylvania.

6. Occupation: 1951 Norristown City Directory: Beecher, Frank E. (Florence) musician r 531 E. Main in 1951 in Norristown, Montgomery, PA. 7

7. Occupation: guitarist in 1955. In August 1955, Beecher played for the first time on national TV with Bill Haley and the Comets performing "Rock Around The Clock" and soon afterward was promoted to a full-time member of the band, appearing with the group in the films "Rock Around The Clock" and "Don't Knock The Rock."

8. Newspaper: Philadelphia Inquirer: New split-level homes, 124 and 130 Henry rd., Trooper, have been sold by James D. Scully for the Providence Hills Building Corp. to Francis E. Beecher and A. Frank Strouse, for $13,490 each., 2 Dec 1956, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. 8

9. Immigration record when entering Brazil on 14 Apr 1958 in , , , Brazil. 1 Name: Francis Eugene Beecher
Admission to country: Temporary
Admitted: 7 Dec 1945
Birth date: 29 Sep 1921
Nationality: American
Parents: Eugene & Mamie
Profession: musician
Residence: Penna.
Passport n. 262464.

10. Newspaper: Delaware County Daily Times: Franny Beecher Quit The Commet, 14 Jul 1960, Chester, Delaware, PA. 9 Three musicians who have been members of the Bill Haley grouip for the past five years have quit the Comets.
Franny Beecher (guitar), Ralph Jones (drums), and Rudy Pompilli (sax) left last month. Pompilli has joined Continental Artists, a Chester booking agency, Jones plans to do some teaching. Beecher's plans have not been announced.

11. Occupation: Car Salesman at Adam Scheidt Ford, 1400 W. Main St. Norristown on 11 Aug 1960 in Norristown, Montgomery, PA. 10

12. Newspaper: News Herald: Ad: Blue Anchor Inn, Route 309 Sellersville DANCING Friday and Saturday Nights to Franny Beecher and his Ambassadors, 1 Jul 1965, Perkasie, Bucks, PA, USA. 11

13. Newspaper: Lebanon Daily News: Ex-Comets remember rocking around clock, 17 Apr 1983, Lebanon, Lebanon, PA. 12 -----
Ex-Comets remember rocking around clock
(photos of Al Piccirilli and Francis Beecher)
NORRISTOWN -- How the clock overtakes the men who used to rock around it. Norristown natives Al Piccirilli and Francis Beecher were two of the late Bill Haley's Comets in the band's heyday. Led by the ex-country singer with the spit curl and the baby face, they burned up the record charts in the mid-50s and helped create a revolutionary sound called rock 'n' roll. Thirty years later, Piccirrili earns his living supervising the loading of Seven-Up trucks, and Beecher works as a maintenance foreman in a costume factory. Both men seem to have adjusted gracefully to the ephemeral nature of fame. Born 61 years ago in Norristown, Montgomery County, Beecher played primarily jazz-style guitar before joining Haley. He played it so well, in fact, that he won a chair in Benny Goodman's band, where he played for two years. Performing at President Truman's inaugural ball with Goodman remains a high point of Beecher's life. Piccirilli, 54, born in Black Horse, sang and played upright bass and guitar. He was into "hillbilly music," as country and western was then called. Both men performed locally before making it big: Beecher in a pop group called The Three Shivers, and Piccirilli in a hillbilly band called The Buckaroos. Piccirilli joined Haley early on, when Haley was a deejay for WPWA, outside Chester, in the late 1940s. At that time, Haley called his band The Saddlemen. They wore 10-gallon hats and wailed high n' lonesome on Haley's radio show. The Saddlemen dropped the name and the 10-gallon hats. They became Bill Haley and the Comets. "The band's sound was loud and it was al! rhythm," says Piccirilli, who never claimed to be a "legitimate" musician. "Our type of stuff was strictly three cords with a beat." A few records later, the band recorded a song called "Rock Around the Clock." At first, the tune did only moderate business. Then someone tapped it as the theme song for the movie "The Blackboard Jungle." "The movie made the song," says Piccirilli. "The song made Bill Haley and the Comets." Soon after, Beecher joined the band, contributing to a string of hits such as "See Ya Later, Alligator," "Dim, Dim the Lights" and "Saints Rock and Roll." Both Piccirilli and Beecher rode the crest of the band's popularity in the mid-50s. They were a top international attraction, touring Canada, Mexico, Cuba, South America, Britain, Australia and Jamaica. They starred in several movies, including "Rock Around the Clock." And, not by choice, they say, they became symbols of a style of dressing, dancing and dating that now seems the very soul of discretion but then made parents fret. Francis Beecher If neither man got quite rich on the salaries Haley paid them, they got a taste of the good life: Piccirilli owned a big house in Delaware County for a time; Beecher made his first car a Lincoln and followed it with two more. But the good times, while they lasted fairly long by pop music standards, eventually sputtered to a stop. "Our record sales started going down, our drawing power went down, our price went down," Piccirilli recalls. Piccirilli quit first, around 1960. Although he formed his own group, the hits didn't materialize. "I was in the big leagues with Haley, and it was pretty hard coming back to the minor leagues again," he says. "So I finally decided I was going to cash it in. And I haven't picked up an instrument since." Beecher left about two years later, when the money dwindled to the point that Haley could no longer afford to pay him his wages. Although Beecher had already decided to leave, he says, an ultimatum from his wife ensured no second thoughts. "How long can you hang on?" asks Beecher, whose one regret seems to be the time with family that his livelihood stole. "You've got to put your family before your work." Because of the insecurity of the music business, he vowed to never again depend on it for a living. Beecher found work at Collegeville Flag and Manufacturing Co.'s Norristown plant, where he makes mask molds from plaster casts and maintains plant machinery. In his spare time, he plays guitar on the lucrative "society" circuit. He lives in Trooper. Piccirilli went to work for Alan Wood Steel as a supervisor for 13 1/2 years. When Alan Wood closed, he had trouble finding another job. But 2 1/2 years ago he was hired by Seven-Up, where he supervises the loading of delivery trucks. He lives in Bridgeport. Though their fame is far behind them, both men seem to have a measure of contentment. Says Beecher, "I have an interesting job.'' Every so often he will pull out old records, magazines and snapshots. "I reminisce," he says. "It's an accomplishment. It's a good feeling." Says Piccirilli, "That was my ambition to be an entertainer and a singer. So I accomplished my goal and now I'm satisfied. So now I work for a living."

14. Residence: 101 Henry Rd, Eagleville, PA on 24 Feb 2014 in Eagleville, Montgomery, PA, USA.

15. Obituary: New York Times: Franny Beecher, 92, Rock Guitarist for the Comets, Dies on 25 Feb 2014 in New York, New York, NY. 13 Franny Beecher, who joined Bill Haley and His Comets as lead guitarist after the group had helped kick off the rock 'n' roll era with the hit "Rock Around the Clock" in the 1950s, died on Monday in a nursing home near Philadelphia. He was 92.

His daughter, Pauline Grinstead, confirmed his death.

The Comets, whose hits also included "See You Later, Alligator," are credited by some music historians with recording the first rock 'n' roll song, in 1953, with "Crazy Man, Crazy," the group's biography on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website says.

The Philadelphia session guitarist Danny Cedrone, who died in 1954, played on the original recording of "Rock Around the Clock." Mr. Beecher, his replacement, played when the band performed the song for the first time on national television, in 1955, and also for films, notably "Blackboard Jungle" in 1955.

"Rock Around the Clock" became a hit again nearly 20 years after its release when it was included on the 1973 soundtrack of "American Graffiti."

The Comets broke up in 1962, but in the 1980s Mr. Beecher and some of the original members reunited and toured in the United States and internationally.

Francis Beecher was born on Sept. 29, 1921, in Norristown, Pa. He started playing guitar in front of crowds when he was 17 and continued until he was 90; before the Comets, he performed with Buddy Greco and Benny Goodman, Ms. Grinstead said.

In addition to Ms. Grinstead, Mr. Beecher's survivors include two sons and six grandchildren.

16. Obituary: Philadelphia Inquirer: Franny Beecher, 92, guitarist for Comets on 26 Feb 2014 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. 14 (photo: Franny Beecher in 2005)
Franny Beecher, 92, lead guitarist for Bill Haley and His Comets, the band that helped begin the rock-and-roll era with the 1955 hit "Rock Around the Clock," died in his sleep Monday at a nursing home near Philadelphia, his daughter Pauline Grinstead said. The Comets, whose hits also included "See You Later Alligator," is credited by some music historians with having recorded the first rock-and-roll song in 1953 with "Crazy Man, Crazy," the group's biography on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website says. Francis Beecher was born in 1921 in Norristown. He started playing guitar before crowds when he was 17 and continued until he was 90. Before the Comets, he performed with Buddy Greco and Benny Goodman, Grinstead said. "My dad didn't play music for money. He was no businessman," she said. "He played music for music." Although Philadelphia session musician Danny Cedrone played on the original recording of "Rock Around the Clock" before his death in 1954, Mr. Beecher played the signature song for the first time on national television in 1955 and also played with the group in films. "Rock Around the Clock" became a hit again nearly 20 years after its release when it was included as the theme song of the movie American Graffiti. The Comets broke up in 1962, but in the 1980s, Mr. Beecher and some of the original members reunited and played tour dates around the United States and internationally for years. Grinstead said her father also is survived by two sons and six grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending.

17. Obituary: Times Herald: obituary of Francis E. Beecher Sr. on 26 Feb 2014 in Norristown, Montgomery, PA. 15 Francis E. Beecher "Franny", Sr. of Norristown, passed away peacefully on Monday February 24, 2014. He was 92 years old. Born September 29, 1921, in Norristown, he was the son of the late Eugene and Mamie (nee Schreck) Beecher and the beloved husband of Florence T. (nee Organtini) Beecher with whom he shared over 60 years of marriage. Franny was a world renowned guitarist and composer of music who started out playing country & western. He composed the guitar instrumental "Goofin' Around" and "Blue Comet Blues" among others. Early on Franny performed with Buddy Greco & the Four Sharps when he was discovered by Benny Goodman. Franny performed as a member of the Benny Goodman Beep Bop Band, Sextet and Orchestra. He was best known as an original member of Bill Haley and The Comets, performing on national T.V. many times and had appeared in many motion pictures with the band. He traveled extensively throughout the world during his music career, which spanned over 75 years and finally retired in 2007. He became a legend in his own time. Franny continued to play locally performing at the Bridgeport Rib House up until the age of 90. He was inducted in the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, the Wildwood Hall of Fame in 2012, the Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame in 1997 and was most recently in 2013, inducted into the Norristown High Hall of Fame Class of 1938. In his spare time and at home, Franny enjoyed spending time in front of the T.V. watching old cowboy and monster movies. He was a prankster and playful teaser who loved to press his luck playing the lottery and at bingo. Most of all he looked forward to Sunday morning breakfasts at the Collegeville diner and spending time with his family. Franny will be sadly missed by his wife Florence, his three children; Francis E. Beecher, Jr. and his wife Karen, Pauline A. Grinstead and her husband William, and Robert J. Beecher, he is the proud grandfather of: Michelle Beecher, Jennifer Portela (Juan), Rebecca Nagle, Patricia Cutrona (Girolamo), Dereck Beecher (Jocelyn), and Brandon Beecher, and three great grandchildren; Paulina Portela, Olivia Portela and Carmela Cutrona. He was preceded in death by four siblings. Relatives and friends are invited to share in Franny's Life Celebration service on Friday February 28, from 6 to 9 PM at Boyd-Horrox of East Norriton, 200 West Germantown Pike 610-277-7000. Eulogy and Remembrance service will begin at 7:30 PM, and the viewing will continue after. Interment will be private at the convenience of the family.

Francis married Florence Theresa Organtini, daughter of Alfonso Organtini and Helen Marie Viviani. (Florence Theresa Organtini was born on 2 May 1925 in Norristown, Montgomery, PA 16.)


1, Brasil, Cartões de Imigração, 1900-1965, Francis Eugene Beecher, 1958.

2 The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) (Norristown, Montgomery, Pennsylvania., 26 Feb 2014. Obituary of Francis E. Beecher.

3 Find A Grave,

4 1930 United States Census, Norman H Lougharn, 1930.

5 1940 United States Census, Norman Lougharn, Ward 1, Norristown, Norristown Borough, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 46-134, sheet 3B, family 58.

6 "1950 United States Census," Francis Beecher Sr. Norristown PA.

7, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, 1951 Norristown City Directory, page 49, online image 28.

8 Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), 2 Dec 1956, page 51.

9 Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, PA), Page 37.

10 The Mercury (Pottstown, PA), 11 Aug 1960, page 29.

11 News Herald (Perkasie, PA), 1 Jul 1965, page 7.

12 Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, PA), 17 Apr 1983, page 63. Music.

13 New York Times (New York, New York. Some articles online at, 25 February 2014 Newspaper Page B16.

14 Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), 26 Feb 2014, page B5. Obituary of Franny Beecher.

15 The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) (Norristown, Montgomery, Pennsylvania., 26 Feb 2014. Obituary of Francis E. Beecher.

16 1930 United States Census, Florence Organtini in household of O Organtini, Norristown, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0101, sheet 10B, family 178.

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