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Beastrom family named SDSU Alumni Association Family of the Year

Family of the Year honors from the South Dakota State University Alumni Association for 2012 go to a family whose patriarch wouldn’t let his son go to high school.


Bernard and Thelma Beastrom, front row, are joined by other family members at a gathering Saturday, Feb. 18, that honored the Beastrom family as the SDSU Family of the Year. Bernard Beastrom, originally of Highmore and now of Pierre, began the family’s connection to State when he enrolled in Aggie School in 1942

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 The Bernard and Thelma Beastrom family of Pierre was selected by the SDSU Alumni Association and Staters for State, the student alumni organization. The Beastroms were honored during half time at the Feb. 18 SDSU women’s basketball game.


When Bernard Beastrom was a 14-year-old growing up on a farm near Highmore, he didn’t join eighth-grade classmates in moving up to high school.


It was a different era, and “My dad didn’t believe too much in high school,” Beastrom said. However, “I thought that was the way to go.” So in 1942, at age 16, Beastrom traveled to Brookings and enrolled in the School of Agriculture, which was separate from the Division of Agriculture.


The School of Agriculture was established in 1908 for students who were not near a high school or who couldn’t break from farm responsibilities for nine continuous months.


Beastrom fell in the latter category. Aggie High School courses were held from October to late March. At the time Beastrom enrolled, the curriculum was intended to be a four-year program. Of course, a lot of things changed in 1942. Beastrom went home and worked on the farm while U.S. Army troops used the Brookings school’s facilities during World War II.


When courses began again in fall 1945, the curriculum had changed to a two-year program, and Beastrom was back in the classroom.


He earned his Aggie High School diploma in 1946 and went back to farming. “I thought that was quite a school. I liked agricultural. It had just about everything you needed as far as farming,” said Beastrom, who went on to establish his own successful farming operation six miles northeast of Pierre.


Three generations of graduates


His pioneering trip to SDSU launched a Beastrom legacy at State.


He was followed to campus by all five of his children, three grandchildren, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, a grandson-in-law, a brother and a sister. That makes 14 SDSU graduates from 1946 to 2004.

The first of Beastrom’s children to head to campus was Sharon (Beastrom) Markl.

She graduated from Pierre High School in 1965, a time when high school coeds didn’t automatically go to college. However, in the Beastrom household, “We just knew we were going to go to college. We just thought automatically we were going to go to Brookings.”

It proved a good move for her. She earned her Associate of Arts degree in secretarial science and met her future husband, Barry.

Markl makes mark with Walgreens

Barry Markl left SDSU with a wife and a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. That launched him on a successful 40-year career with Walgreens, from which he retired in 2007 as a senior vice president of store operations. Markl’s profession gave him the opportunity to serve on the SDSU College of Pharmacy Advisory Council.

That involvement led the Markls to put their money where they earned their diplomas.

In 2002-04, he co-chaired the Pharmacy “Future is Now” Campaign Committee, served on SDSU Foundation Phoenix Regional Campaign Committee, contributed to the Jackrabbit Guarantee scholarship fund and donated funds for the new pharmacy building.

That donation allowed them to sponsor the Markl Student Resource Room in the Avera Health and Science Center.

“A plaque is fine, but I’m not one who likes much limelight recognition. I feel blessed and proud to help in same way,” he said.

Trust to create lasting impact

Dennis Hedge, dean of the College of Pharmacy and nominator of the Beastrom family, said, “The Beastrom family has contributed their time as members of committees and councils, preceptors of pharmacy students and with fundraising events.

“In addition, their generous personal financial contributions to support SDSU are in excess of $1 million.

“The Beastrom family loyalty and support to SDSU will have an impact for many years beyond these past 60 years as Barry and Sharon Markl have committed to a charitable remainder trust that will establish an enhanced chair with the College of Pharmacy to benefit the college’s oncology research program.”

There were 24 Beastroms on campus for the Feb. 18 recognition, including 85-year-old Bernard Beastrom.

SDSU 2012 Family of the Year graduates (with current residence, degree and year)

     Bernard Beastrom, Pierre, Aggie School diploma, 1946

     Conrad Beastrom, deceased, bachelor’s in pharmacy, 1953

     Carol (Beastrom) Cooper, Carpenteria, Calif., bachelor’s in sociology, 1965

     Sharon (Beastrom) Markl, Fountain Hills, Ariz., associate in secretarial science, 1968

     Barry Markl, Fountain Hills, Ariz., bachelor’s in pharmacy, 1968

     Betty (Beastrom) Stromberg, Hanover, Minn., bachelor’s in home economics, 1973; master’s in guidance and counseling, 1974

     James Beastrom, Pierre, bachelor’s in animal science, 1973

     Terry Beastrom, Pierre, bachelor’s in ag and research economics, 1978

     Jon Beastrom, Pierre, associate in animal science, 1988

     Theresa (Carter) Beastrom, Pierre, bachelor’s in early childhood education, 1994

     Krista (Beastrom) Stevens, Spearfish, bachelor’s in pharmacy, 1996; doctor of pharmacy, 2001

     Shad Ludemann, Fort Pierre, bachelor’s in economics, 2001

       Brandy (Beastrom) Ludemann, Fort Pierre, bachelor’s in pharmacy, 2001, doctor of pharmacy, 2003

Brittney (Beastrom) Spencer, bachelor's in animal science, 2004

About South Dakota State University

Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from eight different colleges representing more than 175 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 29 master’s degree programs, 12 Ph.D. and two professional programs.

The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Cooperative Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.