Rev. Lee Williamson shared these thoughts and memories at Frank’s memorial service.
When Frank died we lost a strong and good friend, and we lost a champion for peace.
I met Frank in 1982 when I joined with him and several other great folk to organize (and I use that term very, very loosely) an affinity group which we called Mustard Seed—a term we took from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4: “The realm of God is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all plants/shrubs.” (Mark 4:31-32a) Frank Beville—in every way that I know, certainly as a champion for peace—was far more than just a great plant. He was a giant tree—a giant tree that was still growing.
John Chamberlin said of Frank: “Frank was one of those guys who didn’t call attention to himself, but whenever I went to a vigil or a demonstration I always looked around to see if Frank was there —and when he was (which was often) I just felt better.” And Frank was always ready with a genuine and big hug … and if you needed to bend his ear, he listened as if that was the only thing in the world that mattered.
Solid is a good word to use in connection with Frank. I can specifically remember times when some in the crowd or group at a vigil, or demonstration, or peace worship were getting unruly and Frank was always there to calm the situation—to de-fuse it. Solid, steady, clear … dependable.
I didn’t know, but learned from Sherry, that a story that Frank loved to tell—and did tell over and over—was of a time when he and I and lots of others were in a demonstration at the Federal Building in San Francisco.
Usually when we did Civil Disobedience we never went limp when arrested. That day I was given no choice. Two big guys grabbed me from where I was sitting and dragged me into the building, across the floor, and tossed me into the elevator. Soon here came Frank, tossed in on top of me. Frank, seeing the treatment I received, did go limp that day to express solidarity with me and protest of such treatment by the arresting officers.
I hadn’t thought about that moment for a long while. Now it will be one of those stories I’ll tell over and over to whomever will listen and even to some who wish I wouldn’t tell it— again.
That’s what we do—tell our stories. It’s what we have.
It’s who we are. And Frank had lots of stories.
I wouldn’t even try to count the number of times that I have been with Frank in our mutual work for peace.
I have no idea how many times Frank was out there as a peacemaker when I was not.
But I do know this: when Frank Beville died we all lost a strong and good friend and the world lost a champion for peace.
There is one more thing I know: when Frank died heaven’s spirit was enlarged greatly—because Frank’s spirit is there.