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Originally published February 12, 2013 at 9:00 PM | Page modified February 12, 2013 at 10:54 PM

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Obituary: Douglas Beighle, 80, was Boeing VP, philanthropist, patron of the arts

After retiring from Boeing in 1997, Douglas Beighle stayed active in the business community by serving on four boards. When he reached the mandatory retirement age for serving on a board, he continued his involvement as a volunteer.

Seattle Times staff reporter


When Douglas Beighle was a boy in Deer Lodge, Mont., he promised himself that when he grew up, he would change careers after 20 years.

Despite being happy practicing law, Mr. Beighle upheld his childhood promise and left the Seattle law firm Perkins Coie in 1980 after two decades and accepted a position as vice president of contracts at Boeing.

That drive to challenge himself never waned.

“He wanted to be successful in more than one area of work and was always looking for variety,” said Kathleen Pierce, his wife of 15 years.

Mr. Beighle died Feb. 3 of natural causes while traveling with his wife in Myanmar. He was 80.

He was in Myanmar serving as an ambassador for Partners Asia, a nonprofit organization that connects community leaders with global resources.

Mr. Beighle also served on the board of Landesa, a nonprofit organization that works to secure land rights for impoverished people.

“Working with organizations that focused on global poverty moved him to a different place in his philanthropic work,” Pierce said. “He saw it as helping solve a social problem, which was a little different from what he had done before.”

After attending high school in Deer Lodge, Mr. Beighle studied business administration at the University of Montana. He served as a second lieutenant in the Air Force for two years before returning to the University of Montana to earn a law degree.

He was a faculty fellow at Harvard Law School and earned a law degree there in 1960.

Last year when Mr. Beighle was honored by the University of Montana for his outstanding career, he advised law students to commit themselves to their practice. “There is no substitute for the intensity of work you put in,” he wrote.

After retiring from Boeing in 1997 he stayed active in the business community by serving on four boards. When he reached the mandatory retirement age for serving on a board, he continued his involvement as a volunteer.

After Mr. Beighle retired, his focus shifted from succeeding in his personal career to helping others, said his son, who is also named Douglas Beighle.

“My dad had a laserlike focus on problem solving and rational decision making and a brilliant mind,” his son said. “Then as he matured, he opened up his heart.”

Mr. Beighle chaired the board of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and was actively involved with KCTS-TV and the Pacific Science Center.

In 2001 he was honored as Citizen of the Year by the Seattle-King County Municipal League for his philanthropic efforts.

Mr. Beighle’s first wife, the Rev. Gwen Beighle, and his second wife, Pierce, triggered Mr. Beighle’s desire to be philanthropic, his son said.

“Both are very strong women devoted to transcending themselves,” he said.

Mr. Beighle was passionate about the arts and especially enjoyed the theater.

“You couldn’t go to an arts event in the last 20 years where he wasn’t there,” said Arts Fund Foundation board member Steve Reynolds, who served on the board with Mr. Beighle.

Mr. Beighle used his financial-management skills and connections in the business community to increase funding for the arts. He was one of the early corporate sponsors of the Arts Fund and remained actively involved until he died.

“He encouraged corporations to stay very, very active in contributing to the arts,” said Reynolds. “Doug was emphatic that the leaders at those businesses be heavily involved in the Arts Fund.”

Mr. Beighle was also a devoted fisherman. He spent two months every year fly-fishing at his cabin.

Mr. Beighle enjoyed the outdoors and spent much of his free time gardening and hiking. Last summer he spent a weekend hiking with his wife, children and grandchildren in the Mazama area in Okanogan County in Central Washington. “He was a very healthy person and very vibrant,” said his son.

Mr. Beighle was preceded in death by his first wife, Gwen, and brother Donald Beighle.

Other survivors include son Randy Beighle, and daughters Cheryl Beighle and Kate Jacks, all of Seattle; and stepdaughters Kristina Montague, of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Serena Maurer, of Seattle.

Visit for information about a memorial for Mr. Beighle. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Pacific Science Center or Landesa.

Sarah Elson: 206-464-2718 or