Obituary of John Nicholas Beyer
John Nicholas Beyer Jr. died peacefully on April 4, 2023 in Reston, Virginia. He was 94 years old. John was born March 13, 1929 to Mildred Ethel Beyer (Terry) and John Nicholas Beyer Sr. in Merrick, Long Island. He graduated from Wellington C. Mepham High School in Bellmore, NY. He always wanted to be a pilot and enlisted in the Army Air Force after high school. While he passed the rigorous test to enter the Air Force Academy, they didn’t need any more recruits and so assigned him to the Military Police. It wasn’t what he had enlisted for, but it ended up to be a huge success. The GI Bill paved the path for his Master’s Degree in Architecture at Columbia University and changed his life forever.
In 1958 John was awarded a William Kinne Fellows Memorial Fellowship for travel and study. Before he set out on his travels he bought a Fiat 1500 - site unseen. Ever frugal, he took a steamer ship to Europe and picked up that Fiat in Italy. He would often ask, “Do you know what alfresco means?,” because when he traveled through Europe he would pull over on the side of the road and sleep in the “open air.” John had many adventures that year, including taking a boat down the Nile from Cairo to Sudan. He snapped a picture on that trip that won him a photography prize from The Saturday Review magazine - but that’s another story.
John met his wife, Betty-Jane (BJ) Bonser, at the Café des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1960. They sealed their love with a kiss under the Arc de Triomphe - the historical axis of Paris. John and BJ shared a mutual deep intellectual curiosity and a love of travel. They married in 1962 and had two daughters, Sarah Lucy Oliver (Jim Oliver) and Christina Alexandra Beyer (John Dudek). John adored and was in awe of his three grandchildren, Brendan Aloysius Kelly, Tess Asenath Kelly and Emily Virginia Sharp.
John had a rich career. His first full time architectural job was under the master architect, Minoru Yamasaki, at the time that Yamasaki was designing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
John and Betty-Jane moved to Toronto in the late 1960’s where John focused his architectural expertise on airport planning. He was an airport planner for Toronto Pearson Airport’s Aeroquay 1, known for its innovative design, and for the airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was offered the opportunity to work on airports in Kuala Lumpur and Borneo, Malaysia, and took his family with him.
The Beyers moved to the Washington DC area in the early 1970’s. It is here that John worked for Marriott Hotels when Marriott was just beginning its international expansion. He worked on the design for hotels in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Amman, Jordan and Athens, Greece. He then moved to the Sverdrup Corporation where he worked on the design for the American Embassies in Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru. But, John always said his most fulfilling job was working for Job Corps. He loved the fact that he was responsible for improving the buildings that the students were using to improve their lives.
John was happiest in the company of family and spending time with his Columbia University buddies. He was a lover of classical music and opera, good food, fine wine, and all things New York City. He was an avid mushroom hunter, skilled carpenter, and could fix anything. He had a wonderful eye for art, fashion and beautiful jewelry. He loved to cook and made amazing baguettes.
Betty-Jane was married to John for over 60 years, the most interesting and handsome man she ever met. The family will gather for a memorial service this summer in West Wardsboro, Vermont.