Chester Beard built downtown business on shoes and service

During downtown Everett’s heydays in the 1940s and ’50s, shoppers could choose from more than 20 shoe stores. Times changed, stores closed, and then there was one — Chester Beard Shoes and Apparel.

“We stayed downtown longer than most people did,” said Evelyn Beard, who helped her husband run the store on Colby Avenue for decades, until it closed in 1995. The couple later worked at the family’s SAS Shoes near Everett Mall.

“He didn’t do high fashion, high heels. He’d concentrate on what people were asking for,” Evelyn Beard said. “When styles changed to more comfort, he was already there.”

A lifelong resident of Everett, Chester “Bud” Beard Jr. died May 3. He was 76.

A 1950 graduate of Everett High School, he joined his father in the family business after his graduation from the University of Washington in 1954.

The business had long been an institution downtown. Beard Brothers Shoes, on Hewitt Avenue, was founded in 1915 by identical twins Chester and Lester Beard, Chester Beard’s father and uncle. The store had one other location before the move to Colby.

“In the downtown area, you knew everybody, all the other shopkeepers,” said Evelyn Beard. She got to know her future husband through the Colby Avenue floral business owned by her father, Herbert Quaas.

“Bud used to come in and buy flowers. I went up and bought shoes from his store. He invited me out for coffee. By the time we got to the front door, he had invited me out to dinner,” she said.

Born Dec. 6, 1931, Chester Beard is survived by his wife, Evelyn; and by three children, Julie Rozell, of Camano Island; Chester “Buzz” Beard, III, of Everett; and Krys Beard, of Tacoma.

Perry Snyder, 84, of Bend, Ore., lived next door to the Beards on Colby Avenue when Chester was a boy. “I remember their back yard all fenced for him to play. He wanted to go out in the big world,” Snyder said.

Evelyn Beard said she took time out to raise their children, but later worked full-time with her husband. “That can be difficult, but we worked it out pretty well,” she said.

Parking problems forced them out of downtown after the Everett Mutual Tower was built, she said. “We’d still be in the downtown area, but that retail is gone,” she said.

Away from business, the family spent time at a summer place on Whidbey Island, where Beard enjoyed fishing and crabbing. After retirement, he became a master gardener.

Always active in his church, Everett’s Trinity Episcopal, Beard devoted much time to the Kairos Prison Ministry, a nondenominational group. “He really enjoyed doing that,” said Evelyn Beard. Her husband visited the penitentiary at Monroe one Saturday each month, and took part in retreats several times a year.

With Glen Atwood, a close friend from church, Beard was also involved in Cursillo.

“It’s a Christian organization: make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ,” said Atwood, 69, of Everett. “We became very close friends.”

They visited prisoners together for years. “The inmates loved him,” Atwood said. “He was the kind of guy who didn’t speak too much, but when he spoke they listened. We’re going to miss him greatly.”

Atwood remembers his wife calling Beard “the candy man” for his habit of carrying and handing out wrapped pieces of hard candy.

“I think it started at the store, but he took them to church and handed them out,” Atwood said. “He was a salesman, but kind of a quiet salesman.”

In the last years of his life, Beard suffered from dementia. Still, he’d go to the south Everett store with his wife. “He would hand out candy and talk with people,” she said.

“He always had a twinkle in his eye. He had a wit about him,” Evelyn Beard said. “He was a happy person, a quiet, gentle person.”

Reporter Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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