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Edwin W. Beach, 87; a Top Financial Officer to Four California Governors

September 08, 2006|Claire Noland | Times Staff Writer

Edwin W. Beach, a top financial administrator to four California governors, died Aug. 24 of congestive heart failure at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, his grandson Mark Beach said. He was 87.

Beach served in the state Department of Finance for 30 years, as chief of the budget division for Goodwin Knight, Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan and as chief deputy director of the budget for Jerry Brown.

Beach was responsible for assembling and implementing the governor's budget, regardless of political affiliation. Knight and Reagan were Republicans and both Browns were Democrats.

"Finance directors come and go, but he was the elder statesman of the civil servants," Mark Beach said of his grandfather. "He had the institutional knowledge, which is why they kept him on."

A registered Democrat, Beach prided himself on remaining nonpartisan, loyal to whichever governor he served, his grandson said.

Beach was born in 1918 in Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb that in those days was a distinct outlying community, where his father owned the only gas station in town and a car dealership.

After attending Stanford University for a few months, Beach returned to Elk Grove to run the business when his father suffered a back injury.

During World War II, Beach served in the Coast Guard and was stationed in the San Francisco Bay Area. After the war, he got a job with the state Department of Veterans Affairs. He moved on to the Finance Department in 1949 and worked his way up to budget chief during Knight's administration.

He retired in 1979, then served four years on the Board of Control as Brown's appointee.

Outside state government, Beach was a patron of the arts. In 1972 he bought an abandoned three-story building on J Street in downtown Sacramento, partially renovated it and for a decade rented cheap studio space to artists, Mark Beach said.

In addition to his grandson Mark, Edwin Beach is survived by a son, Tod Beach of Sacramento; a daughter, Janine Santana of Sacramento; four other grandchildren; and a great-grandson.


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