Herb and Jeanette Beier Photos from the collection of Sussex Village Historian Fred H. Keller
Recently Bruce Johns, grandson of Herbert Ray Beier and Jeanette Muria Brown and resident of the Partridge Hills subdivision of Lisbon, gave the Sussex Lisbon Area Historical Society a set of three Beier family photos, including the 1919 wedding portrait of Herb and Jeanette.
Herb became a major property owner in old Templeton, owning the majority of the immediate southeast corner of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue in the 1886-established unincorporated Village of Templeton. When he came on the scene in the 1920s, the Village of Sussex was incorporated and took in Templeton as its eastern province. Today, much of the land that Beier owned is under concrete in the recent widening of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue, but a significant part is grassed-over land immediately north of the now closed Hardee's restaurant.
Herb was born Dec. 26, 1897, growing up as a farm boy in southwestern Town of Lisbon, near where Lindsey Road is west of the present day Highway 164.
Jeanette was part of a popular set of Sussex sisters, the Brown girls, which also included Jessie. Jeanette married Herb in about 1919.
Herb bought a home, a filling station (with car sales and repairs) and the adjacent former Steiner Brothers-Fleischmann cheese factory, all on the southwest corner of Main and Waukesha. Meanwhile, Jessie Brown married Roy Stier, who would become fire chief, Lions Club president, longtime Village Board member and village president.
Herb would follow in his friend and brother-in-law's footsteps, becoming a village trustee, president of the Lions Club and an ace mechanic, plus an early electronics specialist in his later years, repairing radios and televisions.
When he acquired the cheese factory adjacent to his home and garage, he converted it to a rooming apartment on the top level, and in the basement he taught gun safety and competitive target practice and competition as the leader of the Sussex Rifle Club. The target practice and competition used extra-heavy, extra-long barrel rifles with scopes. The 11-foot-high basement that served as the team's shooting gallery had a floor of bedrock limestone. The training and competitive shooting involved teams from all over Waukesha County and beyond, and the small-bore rifle club in Sussex lasted during the 1930s and 1940s, closing in the 1950s.
Herb served as president of the Sussex Lions Club from 1952-53, and his brother-in-law Roy Stier served from 1948-49.
Going back to the 1920s, Beier sold new Hudson and Essex cars, but later reverted back to just gasoline sales and automotive repairs.
Herb and Jeanette Beier had four children. The first was Doris, who later married Dave Johns. She and her husband were outstanding athletes. For many years she was a swimming instructor at the Sussex quarry, where she also served as a lifeguard. Dave played high school sports at Sussex and Hartland High School, and later played Sussex Land O' Lakes basketball and baseball. He became a Sussex village worker and keeper of the Sussex community hall. Doris graduated in 1936 from Sussex's two-year high school, while David was a 1939 graduate. After David died, she moved to Florida to retire. Doris died in 2002.
Herb and Jeanette's son John Edgar Beier, known as "Jack," was a 1945 graduate of Sussex Junior High School, and later joined the Army. He was unfortunate in life, as he was married and divorced, and died in Milwaukee.
William Beier, born in 1930, graduated from Sussex Junior High in 1946. He and Jack served on the Sussex Fire Department: Bill from 1957-77 and Jack from 1956-72. Bill, Jack and their father combined served well over 40 years in the department.
The final boy, Tom, was born handicapped in 1939. He was a popular member of society, closing out his life as a "character" in Lannon who was looked after by the local population. Tom died in 2002.
Herb died Oct. 31, 1955, three years after serving as Lions Club president. Jeanette lived on, serving as a waitress and cook at the former Three Pines restaurant by the Vulcan quarry. Today, the restaurant has been transformed into the Quarry Mart, a filling station and mini market at N52 W23206 Lisbon Road. Jeanette died in 1969.
All members of the Beier family are now deceased. Herb, Jeanette, Doris and Tom are buried in the Lisbon Central Cemetery.
Retrospect, Jan. 14, 2015: Beier becomes land baron in Sussex
Herbert (Herb) Beier was born into a farm family in Lisbon on Dec. 26, 1897. He basically lived all his life in Lisbon and Sussex, getting married to one of the Brown family sisters, Jeanette, in the mid-1920s. Jeanette was brought up on Sussex's Main Street in the cream brick home adjacent to the Pauline Haass Public Library (the former home of James Weaver).
It would take 102 years from the birth of Herb on what was once called Pewaukee Road, now Swan Road, until the youngest boy, Tom, died on March 2, 2002, to have the Beier family disappear from the local scene. The odd part about his death was, single, he was watching TV at his Lannon Dug Out apartment, apparently watching a Green Bay Packers feature on his easy chair, as he was a sports fan.
Herb became a property baron in old Templeton (east Sussex) as he acquired a filling/service station on the southeast corner of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue, and then added a home. Later, he acquired the former Steiner Brothers Cheese factory just immediately east of his filling station, which he turned into an apartment.
He married well, as Jeanette had a sister, Jessie, who was married to Roy Stier (future Sussex Lions president, long-time Sussex trustee and Sussex fire chief).
Herb was a 1922 charter year member of the Sussex Fire Department and probably served more than 20 years. Meanwhile, two of his sons, Jack and Bill, would put in 35 years together in the department. So, collectively, they had more than 55 years in the department.
Herb was elected as president of the Sussex Lions Club in 1952-53.
To the marriage were born first a girl, Doris, who was an outstanding athlete and she married an outstanding athlete, World War II veteran Dave Johns. Both excelled at swimming at the Sussex Quarry swimming hole behind the canning factory. Both would be lifeguards there and teach swimming lessons to local children under recreation department leadership from Sussex. They would have two sons, Ronald and Bruce. Dave Johns died Dec. 20, 1980, and Doris, after retiring to Ocala, Florida, died there on Jan. 7, 2002.
John (Jack) Beier built a red brick home on Elmwood Avenue and was married to Patricia, having two children, Tim and Kelly. He was in the service for the Korean War. However, he was divorced and became a Milwaukee recluse, homeless person, dying at age 59 on Oct. 1, 1988. He was buried at the Veterans' Wood Cemetery in Milwaukee.
William (Bill) spent 19 years on the Sussex Fire Department, but seemed to crash as a member on July 2, 1976, when he went on a call to what is today the intersection of Hillside Road and Norwalk, about 500 feet south of Highway Q. This was a horrific accident where four teenage girls and a 21-year-old young man mixed a fast car, beer and joy-riding into a death scene for five people. I personally remember Bill staring at a burned, ejected corpse. He seemed to be in shock and basically never attended another fire department call or event and was silently removed from the department in the beginning of 1977. Bill and wife Joanne had two adopted children, Charles and Jeannette. He died July 24, 1996, at age 65. His wife still lives in their home on Elmwood Avenue in Sussex.
The final child, Thomas, Tom or Tommy, did not have the proper use of one arm and one leg, but he attended Sussex Main Street School, graduating in 1953. Born Dec. 5, 1938, he was accepted for his imperfections by the community, and catered to his love of sports. When he played basketball, it was an unwritten rule that you guarded him from a distance and if he had the desire to shoot with his one good hand, you put up your arms so he could shoot through them, field-goal style. The rule was, "Don't you dare block his shot."
He loved the Sussex Land O' Lakes teams, baseball and basketball, but when he moved to Lannon, was at all the Lannon Land O' Lakes baseball games, and one could hear his distinctive cheering for the Lannon teams. Tom Beier was an appreciated community character. His death was the last of the parents and four children. 1897 to 2002.
The photo of this family came from the recently donated collection of the former Audrey Stier Schlegel estate in Santa Cruz, California. She was a cousin of the four Beier children as her mother was a sister of Jeannette Beier.