Normie Beers: A Remembrance

  • By P. Scott Cummins
  • Posted 5/01/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3250

This remembrance of Normie Beers, who was dubbed "Person of the Century" in 1999 by the West Seattle Herald, is by Normie Beers' great nephew P. Scott Cummins. Normie Beers was an early executive of the West Seattle YMCA, and a strong force in the community against anti-Asian racism.

Normie Beers

My Great Uncle is the late Normie Beers -- who the West Seattle Herald dubbed "Person of the Century" in late 1999. He grew up on Queen Anne, but West Seattle was his true stomping ground. An early executive in the YMCA organization -- he is credited with bringing the enormously successful West Seattle YMCA into being -- all while working as a business owner in the district from the early to the middle part of the twentieth century.

Now here is where the story gets interesting: a life-long Democrat -- and of whom Warren Magnuson said "with one phone call I can deliver West Seattle" -- he was a protege of the Eddie Bauer generation in Seattle. He was known for not countenancing anti-Asian racism. It was said that when a Steward of the Turf Club at Longacres was seekiing to deny access to businessmen from "Chinatown" known by Normie -- he said "If this place is not good enough for them, then it is not good enough for me" -- and with that the Longacres establishment became integrated.

Normie's only child is now retired here in Seattle -- in the Windermere neighborhood. Dr. Beverly Levesque MD is a Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist. She holds the "trove" of photos and lore that tells Normie's story.

A 1915 photograph of Normia shows the family home on Queen Anne with the house bedecked in Fourth of July bunting and Douglas Fir garland in the usual fashion, but also in "Rising Sun" flags from Japan. Normia had just returned from a YMCA youth trip to Japan. Another photo shows young men from Japan in a group shot with similar age Seattle boys in what must have been a cultural first for that era.

Normie appreciated all people for who they were -- and by his example and leadership help set Seattle on the course for becoming a celebrator of multi-cultural influences on our community -- an important lesson to remember as we head into the twenty-first century.

 


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By P. Scott Cummins, May 1, 2001


Related Topics:   People's Histories | Seattle Neighborhoods

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