In the wee hours of June 12th the night sky gained another bright star from Rutherford County. Les Beale known to musicians and minstrels alike left our stage to move on to a bigger and better venue. He was home grown from Spindale with an all consuming desire to play music until he found the stage with the Arts Council and began to act. That changed not only his life but almost everyone he encountered thereafter.
He began as a steel worker doing community theater roles in his spare time and became one of the most insightful directors in the local theater world. Les fell in love with Shakespeare. The human condition fascinated him and no one described it as well as the Bard as far as Les was concerned. He lived his life on his own terms. He did not seek fame or fortune he just tried to live his life the way he saw it and always had a shoulder to offer when someone needed it. He was a staunch animal advocate and had several rescues that he loved and cared for.
He deeply cared about people yet did not suffer fools lightly. He was not a fan of the “establishment” and would go into great detail about the evils of the “system” when prompted. When he liked you he would give you the shirt off his back. If he didn’t like you he did not give you the time of day. He was fiercely loyal to his friends and they all knew that he was there for them without question.
One thing he cared about deeply was bringing out the best in young actors and musicians. He mentored many ,many people and helped them discover the talents that they could not fully visualize themselves. His ability to turn a room full of diverse teenagers into a highly skilled singing, dancing troupe of actors and techies was just short of amazing. He was a vocal cheerleader to all. He encouraged so many to believe in themselves. He taught many to act, stage, build sets, costume, and direct.
For years he was the Artistic Director for Rutherford Community Theater. In that role he brought many productions to Rutherford County. He arranged the Spindale Music Mafia that played and conducted open mic nights at Barley’s. He could be found at B Sharp music most any day helping Stan Thomas and sharing music with whoever came in. He also worked backstage at The Foundation and assisted with set and stage production for the many acts that played there.
Les had no children of his own but had watched and helped so many kids grow up in theater that he felt connected to them all. He never let himself get “too” emotionally involved he said until his special Zoe was born. Suddenly he was consumed in a way that he had never been before. From the moment she wrapped her little hand around his finger he was hers, lock, stock, and barrel.
All these years he had never truly understood what it meant to love a child heart and soul and then it happened to him. He mellowed, took better care of himself, and thought more about the future. He loved this child and her family with all his heart and she loved him right back. It was magical to watch. She was his “gift” in his later years he often said.
His last public performance was at a memorial celebration for fellow friend and musician Gordon Martin. He and Laura Thomas sang several songs along with many other friends. It was the type of thing Les loved. Musicians and friends celebrating their love of music and each other.
Les touched so many lives in so many ways. He was a bright star to all who knew him and our stage seems just a bit darker without him here but the fires he nurtured in so many will provide much needed light for years to come and Les Beale will not be forgotten.
“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still gently allows you to grow.” – William Shakespeare.
A Celebration of Life for Les Beale will be held Saturday June 26th from 4pm to 9pm at Green River Plantation hosted by Laura Thomas and Jackie Lail. It will be an evening of friends, food, and music. Instruments are optional but memories are mandatory. All who knew him are welcome to attend. There is an event listing on Facebook with details.
Thank you Les for everything. You will be missed. -“Mama D” .