Major General Carl Neil Beer, of Warsaw, Missouri, died Saturday, September 7, 2019 from complications of cancer treatment. Neil passed away peacefully in the arms of his family at Saint Luke’s Hospice House in Kansas City. He was 84.
Born in Buckhannon, West Virginia in 1935 to Carl and Vada Beer, Neil joined the U.S. Air Force through its aviation cadet program in 1955. A command pilot, the general has 3,540 flying hours and 265 combat missions. His military decorations and awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 14 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.
Neil is a Distinguished Graduate of the University of Oklahoma, College of Engineering where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree, in industrial engineering, magna cum laude, in 1962 and his doctorate in operations research in 1973. In 1977 General Beer was a Distinguished Graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
In addition to flying fighter-interceptor aircraft, during his Air Force career the general taught mathematics at the Air Force Academy, led numerous studies on tactical and theater nuclear force structure, readiness issues and employment concepts. In 1982, he was named Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, plans and programs, North American Aerospace Defense Command and became the first Space Command deputy chief of staff, plans.
After retiring from the Air Force, General Beer became the Deputy for Strategic Defense, military applications, at Livermore National Laboratory. He later served as President and CEO for several software and hardware corporations, developing advanced lasers, signal processing, and energy conversion hardware, these include Thermo Technologies Corporation, SECON, and JMAR Inc. He continued his legacy of space advocacy even into 2019 where he served as Director of Aerospace/Space Due Diligence Advisory Services for STAR Associates.
Neil and his first wife, Jan Forsythe (Alexandria, Virginia), had three children, Monica, Daphne, and Neil (Reg), and four grandchildren. Reg has three children Elizabeth, Clair, and Joe. Daphne had a daughter, Gabrielle.
Neil and his second wife, Heather Beer-Vecchi (Kansas City, Missouri), have two children, Ashley and Brenson. Ashley and Michael Venenga have two children Aurora and Nicolai. Brenson and Marah Shipley Beer have a daughter, Ryley Rose.
Left to honor his memory are Heather, Jan, son Reg, daughter Ashley (Michael) Venenga, son Brenson (Marah) Beer, seven grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and his beloved Saint Bernard, Brandy.
Neil was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Vada, his sisters Vanda Rae and Wanda Lou, and his daughters, Monica and Daphne.
Special thanks to Barry Ressler, of STAR Associates for his friendship and concern for Neil over many years and during his illness. Love and gratitude also to Neil’s niece Sally Rankin, and nephew Norman Whittington, both of Salisbury Maryland, Paula Warrell, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and sister and brother-in-law Leslie and Doug McKillips of Pahrump, Nevada. These loved ones helped Heather and Brenson to care for Neil during his sudden and devastating illness.
Heather, Brenson and Ashley will host a memorial and reception for Neil on Monday, September 30, 2019 at 2:00pm at Shrine of Remembrance, 1730 E. Fountain Blvd., Colorado Springs, Colorado 80910. General Beer will later be interred with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Neil made a difference in the lives of everyone who knew him, and a great many who did not have the privilege. We will continue to speak his name, tell his story, live his legacy, honor and love him.