May 27, 1941 – Oct. 28, 2017
If the Irish community of South Buffalo ever becomes the setting for a fairy tale, one of its princesses would be Judy Beecher, who started as a docent at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and eventually became assistant director .
She died Saturday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. She was 76.
On her mother’s side, the former Judy Carr was a descendant of the last two keepers of the historic Buffalo Lighthouse and a cousin of Gen. Wild Bill Donovan.
Her father, the prizefighter Luke Carr, was inducted into the Buffalo Veteran Boxers Association Hall of Fame. Her uncle, Red Carr, managed local boxing legend Jimmy Slattery.
As a girl, she attended Catholic schools. After graduating from the Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart in 1958, she went to work for New York Telephone Co.
“She met dad on the job,” her daughter, Kathleen Beecher Moore, said. “He was a lawyer getting a new phone system for the firm, and she was in sales at the phone company.”
She and Thomas R. Beecher Jr., who now is counsel to the law firm Phillips Lytle LLP and chairman emeritus of the board of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, were married Nov. 12, 1966, at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church in South Buffalo.
While raising her two children, Mrs. Beecher took courses at D’Youville College and earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature. For her master’s degree at the University at Buffalo, she edited the diaries of artist Charles Burchfield.
She volunteered as a docent at the Albright-Knox, then took a public relations position at the museum.
She became assistant director for administration and facilities at the gallery, working with its longest-serving director, Douglas G. Schultz, and retired in 2002. Among her achievements was overseeing the renovation of Clifton Hall.
“She was a witty and brilliant person,” her daughter said. “She could work with any kind of people.”
Mrs. Beecher was one of four leaders of the Buffalo arts community in 2004 who launched the Campaign for Culture, which encouraged government support for cultural groups.
She served as president of the board of directors of the WNY Institute for the Arts and was a member of the Buffalo Arts Commission and the Art and Archives Committee at the Buffalo Club.
She was chairman of the board of Sacred Heart Academy and a member of the board of directors of Western New York Public Broadcasting Association.
In 1995, she and her husband were co-founders of the Bison Children’s Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition assistance for low-income elementary school students to attend the private school of their choice. Currently, the fund is helping 1,800 children attend 71 schools throughout Western New York.
Last year, she and her husband served as co-chairs of the “Upon This Rock” capital and endowment campaign for The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
She also was a member of the Garrett Club and a parishioner at St. Louis Catholic Church.
The Sacred Heart Academy Alumnae Association honored her as a distinguished alumna in 1997.
In addition to her husband and daughter, survivors include a son, Thomas R. III; a brother, Thomas Carr; and four grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Louis Church, 35 Edward St. at Main Street.