Trucking industry legend Frank Beelman Jr. dies at 100


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Frank Beelman Jr., a trucking executive and military combat veteran decorated with the Silver Star Medal, died on August 4 in his hometown of St. Libory, Illinois.

The CEO of Beelman Truck Co. was 100 years old. The cause of death has not been revealed.

Beelman, who served in World War II, was recalled with full military honors at his funeral on August 9 in St. Libory.

Beelman was in the office every day until March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and continued to work remotely until recently.

“He couldn’t stand still,” said Beelman’s son Sam Beelman, who now runs the company. “He was just a remarkable man. He drove his car and his Harley until about a week and a half ago.

Beelman Truck owns 770 tractors and specializes in hauling dry raw materials in bulk across the country from its site in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Beelman Truck Co. was founded by Frank Beelman Sr. in 1906, delivering ice and coal by horse and wagon to customers in St. Louis, including the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Frank Beelman Jr., born November 20, 1920, joined his father from an early age to load and unload vehicles, assist him in the office, and eventually learn to drive a truck when he was still a young teenager.

He retired from the industry in 1942 during World War II to enlist in the United States Army as a truck driver. He was also one of the thousands of soldiers who attacked heavily fortified German positions at Omaha Beach on D-Day of June 6, 1944, liberating France.

Six months later, Beelman resumed combat in the Battle of the Bulge, starting in December 1944, when German forces launched a surprise attack against Allied forces in the dense, snow-capped forests of Belgium, Luxembourg and France. . The battle lasted until January 1945, after the Allied counteroffensive forced German troops to withdraw.

Beelman was one of those Americans who belonged to the so-called bigger generation. But Sam Beelman said that despite receiving the war decorations, his father, who rose to the rank of sergeant, did not speak much about his experiences during World War II and downplayed his role in the two crucial battles of the war. .

“It was just his mission. He was abroad for two years. He had a lot of homework in battle, ”said Sam Beelman. “My father didn’t like to talk about it very much. We stayed away from that.

Beelman received several medals for his service in World War II, including the third highest military decoration for bravery in combat, the Silver Star Medal.

After returning from Europe, Beelman returned home with his new wife, Kay, whom he married while on leave in 1943, and the family trucking business. He expanded the operation, continuing to work with various industrial customers of coal and others, but also began transporting in the 1950s and 1960s many of the raw building materials needed for the construction of the inter-motorway system. States in Illinois and Missouri.

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“The company also hauled all of the coal for the Anheuser-Busch St. Louis brewery, and it was heavily involved in hauling rock and sand for the highway construction, starting with the Chain of Rocks Bridge. , mainly on the Illinois side, ”said Sam Beelman.

He also remained active with the American Veterans Community, serving as the former Commander of the American Legion in St. Libory and helping the organization build a new Legion Hall.

“Frank was a giver, not a taker. He served his country in World War II and continued his service in the trucking industry, ”ATA President Chris Spear told Transport Topics. “The ATA is fortunate to have members, leaders like Frank. We wish his family the best of luck during this difficult time. “

Sam Beelman said his father was a dedicated family man. Other survivors include daughters Nancy Friederich and Susan Sommer. He was predeceased by Kay, his wife of 67 years, and his son Daniel.

Beelman has been proud to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for the past 86 years, according to Sam Beelman.

“My father lived the American dream – the real American dream.”

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