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|Ronald Clarence "Ron" Bean|
|Member of the Louisiana Senate
from the 38th district
|Preceded by||Richard G. Neeson|
|Succeeded by||Sherri Smith Buffington|
November 4, 1938|
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
|Died||April 19, 2005
|Spouse(s)||Second wife, Carol Grady Bean (born 1946)|
Mary Elizabeth Bean
Ronald Clarence Bean, known as Ron Bean (November 4, 1938–April 19, 2005), was a Republican state senator from Shreveport, Louisiana. He served from 1992 to 2004 and was hailed by his peers for nonpartisanship.
Bean was a United States Army soldier with service in South Korea and Vietnam and a pilot decorated for heroism. Bean died of renal failure at the LSU Medical Center in his native Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish and the largest city in north Louisiana. He had undergone two kidney transplants and suffered from steadily declining health since 2001.
Humor amid personal problems
Bean's friends said that he never lost his notable sense of humor. Besides the kidney transplants, Bean contracted pneumonia, which required hospitalization in 2003, back surgeries, a helicopter crash in 1973 that led to his health problems, and the strains of politics. He outlived two of his three children.
"He was snake bit," said Democratic Senate President Don Hines of Bunkie in Avoyelles Parish, a physician who for eight years sat behind Bean in the Senate. "As soon as he got over one problem he'd have another one. But I never heard him complain one time. He met adversity and then went on with it and never let it affect his personal outlook or his demeanor or his relationship with anybody."
In 2001, Bean collapsed just outside the Senate chambers. He'd taken medication that knocked his blood pressure down to zero, said Hines who, along with others, revived Bean with CPR before emergency medical help arrived.
"Some guys are funny-funny; to me, Ron was the kind of guy who was funny with a very dry sense of humor," said former Democratic State Senator Donald G. Kelly of Natchitoches: "I can't ever recall seeing him mad; I've seen him aggravated, but never mad. He was just ... a great guy."
Bean and Gregory Tarver, another state senator from Shreveport, met while serving on the Caddo Parish Police Jury (equivalent of county commission in other states). Though Bean was a white Republican and Tarver an African American Democrat, the two found that they could work together and became close friends.
"I used to drive to his house late at night and we'd go places together; we just became big buddies. ... I could tell you a lot of funny things Ron did and I did, but none of them for print. He was a character," said Tarver.
Bean often told Tarver, whose family is in the funeral home business, that he'd be "the first white man you'll ever have to bury."
"That was our standing joke," Tarver said, laughing loudly. "I told him that my family had been in the business for 105 years, and we ain't buried a white man yet. We'd joke about that all the time."
Kelly said much of the talk among legislators at the funeral only days earlier for State Senator John Hainkel of New Orleans was of their friend Bean. Hines, who succeeded Hainkel as Senate President, said that it had "been a tough, tough few days we've had here."
"The ultimate in courage"
In 2003, the Louisiana Senate gave the ailing Bean a standing ovation after his colleague Robert J. Barham, an Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish recalled the circumstances that led to Bean's health problems.
During the Senate's farewell bid to Bean in 2003, Hainkel called Bean "the ultimate in courage." He referred not only to Bean's work to expand insurance coverage for transplant patients and to encourage organ donations, but also to May 1973, when Bean, then a U.S. Army chief warrant officer, was piloting Army One, the helicopter that carried the president.
Bean carried Secret Service agents to the Bahamas to replace the crew assigned to then-President Richard M. Nixon; the helicopter developed problems and ditched in the water. Bean ingested jet fuel that brought about his later health problems. He continued to dive and saved six of the seven Secret Service agents.
A low-key campaigner
Consultant Jerry Parnell Payne (born 1942) recalled that Bean did not want his military heroism to be used in campaigns. "It was the third campaign I ran for him before I even found out about his military stories," said Payne. "Then he threw a fit and didn't want us to use any of that; we did anyway. Of all the campaigns I've run, and that's 150 or so, I never worked for a man more earnest, more honest, a guy who exhibits integrity more than Ron Bean."
Bean was elected as a Republican to the Caddo Parish Police Jury in 1975 and served a single four-year term from 1976 to 1980. He was defeated for reelecton in the 1979 general election by the Democrat Ponder F. McInnis (born 1940).
Bean lost his first race for the state Senate in 1987 when he was defeated by incumbent Democrat Richard G. Neeson. Bean was also defeated by fellow Republican Hazel F. Beard in the race for mayor of Shreveport in 1990. He received only 5,056 votes (8 percent) in the primary for mayor.
In the 1991 nonpartisan blanket primary for state senator, Bean secured a general election berth against fellow Republican Tommy Gene Armstrong, a conservative candidate who was serving a one-year unexpired term in the Louisiana House of Representatives created by the resignation of Robert P. "Bobby" Waddell, who became a state district court judge. Armstrong had also been a member of the Caddo Parish Commission, formerly known as the police jury. His continuous police jury service began in 1976 at the same time as that of Bean. Armstrong left the commission with a year remaining in his fourth term. Armstrong led with 13,354 votes (40 percent), and Bean followed with 8,866 votes (26 percent). Republican Ken Wright, with 6,088 votes (18 percent), ran third, and Democrat Bobby Bruce Shofner (born 1948), with 5,494 votes (15 percent), finished in fourth place.
"The third time around [1991; actually fourth time counting the police jury loss] was the charm, and the citizens were smart enough to elect him," said Diana M. Simek, another of Bean's campaign managers. "Even in the losses, he never lost his sense of humor ..." For twelve years he served District 38, which includes Shreveport and parts of DeSoto Parish.
In 1995, the conservative Christian Coalition and Family Research Council attempted to unseat Bean in the nonpartisan blanket primary. In the first round, Bean led with 15,044 votes (49.6 percent) to 12,636 ballots (41.7 percent) for fellow Republican Judy Dawson Boykin (born 1952), a member of the Caddo Parish School Board. A third candidate, Democrat Jim Crowley, polled 2,652 votes (8.7 percent). In the general election, Bean was a narrow winner: 16,550 (50.8 percent) to Boykin's 15,995 (49.2 percent).
In 1999, Bean overwhelmed fellow Republican Daniel Eugene "Dan" Perkins (born 1953), another candidate of the Religious Right, backed by the Shreveport pastor Billy McCormack, one of the national directors of the Christian Coalition. Bean polled 17,866 ballots (71 percent) to Perkins's 7,368 (29 percent). The defeat of Perkins was Bean's last victory and by far his most convincing. Health problems forbade his running again in 2003, when he was succeeded by his legislative aide and fellow Republican, Sherri Smith Buffington.
"He's got an 'R' behind his name and I've got a 'D' behind mine, but that didn't mean a thing," said Don Kelly, whose apartment was next to Bean's in the Pentagon, which houses legislators in Baton Rouge not far from the Capitol. "Ron was out to do what was right. He didn't follow this philosophy or that; he'd look at something, analyze it and then do what's best for his constituents and what's best for Louisiana."
President pro tempore of Louisiana Senate
In 1999, the Senate named Bean the President Pro Tempore, after Dennis Bagneris of New Orleans left the legislature to become a state appeals court judge. Bean was the first Republican to hold the pro tempore post since Reconstruction. "I am delighted that my peers thought enough of me to vote for me," Bean said. "I consider myself a Moderate Republican, who can get along with folks on both sides of the fence. I hope I can contribute in a positive way to the bipartisan effort in the Senate to move the state forward."
Loss of his son
Bean lost his only son, John E. Bean (March 4, 1961 – June 15, 2000), the victim of a traffic accident. Sherri Buffington said that Bean didn't "break down" until after he left the hospital, where he'd been "trying to take care of John's children and his daughter-in-law."
"I think one of the most defining statements I ever heard him make was when we were driving away and he was crying," said Buffington, after talking of how close the father and son were. "He said, 'I have to remember that for forty years I've had what some people never have in a lifetime.' That's Ron. He was always able to take a negative and make something positive out of it."
Bean was survived by his wife, Carol Grady Bean (born 1946), and a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Bean of Shreveport. His funeral was in the temporary quarters of Summer Grove Baptist Church in South Park Mall in Shreveport, with his former pastor, Wayne L. DuBose, officiating. One of the speakers, Huntington "Hunt" Downer, brigadier general of the Louisiana Army National Guard, a former Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, and a failed 2003 gubernatorial contender, noted that Bean had risked his life to save nearly all of the men otherwise doomed in the helicopter crash. He presented a flag to Carol and Mary Bean.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary election returns, October 19, 1991
- Louisiana Secretaqry of State, General election returns, November 16, 1991
- "Louisiana primary election returns, October 23, 1999". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- [dead link]
|Louisiana House of Representatives|
Richard G. Neeson
|Louisiana State Senator from District 38 (Caddo and De Soto parishes)
Ronald Clarence "Ron" Bean
Sherri Smith Buffington