Labor historian Edward Beechert, an active member of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association, died in Albany, Oregon, April 13. He was 93.
Beechert taught labor and economic history at the University of Hawaii’s Hilo and Manoa campuses from 1963 until his retirement in 1988. Previously, he taught at Mexico City College and in California at Ventura College, Modesto College, Sacramento State College, and Saint Mary’s College.
Born in Hawthorne, California on June 10, 1920, Beechert first joined a labor union at age 14 and never stopped organizing for peace and justice.
He put himself through UC Berkeley as a Teamster cab driver and grocery clerk in the Retail Food Clerks Union.
He served in Europe with the Army in 1943-46 and returned to Berkeley to earn his master’s degree and a doctorate of philosophy.
He is author of “Working in Hawaii,” a history of labor in the Islands; “Honolulu: Crossroads of the Pacific,” and many articles and papers about plantation and labor history.
After his retirement, Beechert and his wife, Alice, moved to Pacific Grove, California. Later they moved to Albany, Oregon, where he was active in the Northwest Labor History Association and conducted oral histories for ILWU Local 5 at Powell’s Books.
In February 2009, Beechert was diagnosed with Parkinsons.
He is survived by his wife; three children; and two granddaughters.