Beech Elementary School

1830 S Cypress Street

Beech Elementary School opened its doors on August 27, 1984. 

I could not find much on the school’s history, but there is plenty of information about the school’s namesake, Walter Hershel Beech.

Beech was born on January 30, 1891, near Pulaski, Tennessee.  

At 14, Beech built a glider, using stuff from around his family’s farm including his mother’s bedsheets. That one turned out to be a failure.

Beech joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1917, and later spent three years barnstorming over the Midwest.

In 1921 Beech settled in Wichita to accept a job with Swallow Airplane Corporation. 

Beech with Laird Swallow
Courtesy: WSU Special Collections

In 1924, Beech, Lloyd Stearman and Clyde Cessna formed Travel Air Manufacturing Company

Travel Air Logo Courtesy: WSU Special Collections

Beech married Kansas native, Olive Ann Mellor in 1930.  

Olive Ann and Walter Beech
Courtesy: Archbridge Institute

In 1931 Curtiss-Wright Airplane Company bought Travel Air and made Beech the vice president, then president of Curtiss-Wright, soon after he resigned.

In 1932 he and Olive Ann opened Beech Aircraft Company.  Walter was president and Olive Ann was secretary-treasurer.

Mr. Beech died in Wichita on November 29, 1950.  He suffered a heart attack at the age of 59 years old.

Walter and Olive Ann
Courtesy: King Air Magazine

After his death, Olive Ann served as president of Beech Aircraft Corporation. During her nearly 20 years reign, sales tripled. 

On July 6, 1993, at the age of 89, Olive Ann Beech passed quietly away in her sleep.

She is interred with her husband at the Old Mission Mausoleum in Wichita.

Beech Elementary continues to welcome students each year, as does its twin, Gammon Elementary.

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