Jan. 5, 1924 – Dec. 25, 2014
On Christmas Day, Erika Beer passed away from complications of a stroke. True to her beliefs of not wanting to live if incapacitated, she chose hospice care, only lasting a week.
Born in Halle, Germany on Jan. 5, 1924 she almost made it to 91. Even at 90 she had a memory that was sharper than most people’s, able to recount in vivid detail the stories that made up her and our lives. Going through WWII as a teenager in Germany she had many fascinating tales to tell – drafted as a nurse’s assistant, digging people out of bombed buildings and as a refugee heading west just ahead of the Russians. She met and fell in love with an Austrian-American GI Peter Beer during the occupation, coming to this country as a war bride.
The next 15 years were rough as they did their best to establish themselves financially. Peter eventually became a CPA while Erika worked in a bank. Only when they were financially stable did they start their family – first a son, Frank, and then daughter Karen. Erika was the perfect mom, loved by not only her own kids, but all their friends as well. Always adventurous, she joined the Sierra Club and took up backpacking, almost killing her kids by making every rookie mistake possible on their first trip.
Peter and Erika separated when their kids hit college. Erika then moved to Oregon. She surprised everyone by going back to school, studying Russian and Middle Eastern history. She was a huge favorite of her professors. Her little corner house’s garden was so overflowing with flowers that she became known as “the Flower Lady of Corvallis.” She later lost that house to the IRS. They emptied her bank account and took her house and car as payment for back taxes that Peter, now suffering from Alzheimer’s, didn’t realize he owed.
Erika then left her beloved Oregon and moved to her son’s house in Big Bear to take care of Peter during the end stages of Alzheimer’s. Still vigorous at 75, Erika broke her ankle doing weed abatement on the 1½-acre property. Her ankle was poorly set and medically mismanaged, causing her to need to use a walker for the rest of her life.
She then moved to La Crescenta to live with her daughter’s family, enjoying living in the same area as her four beloved grandsons. She slowed down a little, but was still making her delicious chicken noodle soup, goulash and cucumber salad.
In her honor, a casual memorial open house will be held on Sunday, Jan. 11. Come by to visit anytime between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Tyler home. Erika’s favorite charity was the Defenders of Wildlife.