Today, Edward R. Bean would have turned 101. When he arrived in St. Petersburg in 1927, the town still had horse-drawn buggies.
He passed away on Saturday, Oct. 18. The devoted Tampa Bay Rays fan just missed watching his team earn its first trip to the World Series.
Mr. Bean led an active life, staying busy until just before he passed. It wasn't unusual to see him ride his scooter up to the barbershop to get a haircut.
His granddaughter, Heather Gipson, said the family lovingly forbade him from using it to make the lengthy journey to Home Depot.
Mr. Bean was born in Ridgway, Ill., in a one-room log cabin. He served in the Coast Guard during World War II. As a chief pharmacist mate, he tended to the well-being of the crews of the landing craft infantry in the Pacific theater. Like many other veterans of his generation, he didn't talk about his time in the war.
Mr. Bean had donated much of his memorabilia from his time in the service - machetes, dead grenades, old sandals and uniforms - to the National Coast Guard Museum in St. Augustine.
One year, Gipson made up a photo album for him of his old photos as a present. But Mr. Bean always viewed his granddaughter as the gift. When she was born in 1975, as he was retiring, his daughter Deborah Rowe would refer to her as his "retirement present." He babysat her while mom and dad were at work since she was 6 weeks old.
After returning home, he worked for the Veterans Administration in St. Petersburg for 37 years as an accountant, retiring in 1975. He attended St. Luke's United Methodist Church for more than 50 years.
Mr. Bean and his wife, Margaret, shared 63 years of marriage before she passed in 2004.
Mr. Bean found pride in growing tasty vegetables and fruits in his gardens. At any given time, he might have watermelons, tomatoes, potatoes or cauliflower.
"Instead of 'tender loving care' we called it 'tender loving pop,'" said Gipson. He also adored his little dog, a dachshund named Laney.
Mr. Bean's relatives said they were happy to have had him with them for so long and were celebrating his life. "How can you grieve when someone has had such a rich and full life?" said Paul Rowe, Mr. Bean's son-in-law.
Edward R. Bean
Born: Oct. 21, 1907.
Died: Oct. 18, 2008.
Survived by: daughter and son-in-law, Deborah B. and Paul S. Rowe; granddaughter, Heather R. Gipson and her husband, Mel; sister, Wilma P. McDaniel.
Services: St. Luke's United Methodist Church at 10 a.m. on Thursday.