When you think of Gary Beard, you think of the colors purple and white, as he has spent the majority of his life being true to those colors and his school – Lakeview.
So ‘Operation: Code Purple’ was an appropriate secret code for the effort to raise money and hold a surprise party for the newly-formed ‘Gary and Marlene Beard Scholarship’, which was announced Friday to honor one of Lakeview’s all-time biggest supporters – Gary Beard and his wife Marlene Beard.
“I don’t think that I can express it in words what this means. Beyond my family, this is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Beard, after the surprise announcement was made. “These are wonderful people. I love Lakeview and the people here and we’ve had some great times here over the years.”
Longtime former Lakeview High School athletic director Gary Beard has touched many lives during his time in the community, so it’s not surprising that when it came time to create a scholarship in his name there was no shortage of people willing to contribute. There was a large group composing of the ‘Who’s Who’ of the Lakeview community at the Riverside Country Club for the announcement by the Battle Creek Community Foundation for the creation of the ‘Gary and Marlene Beard Scholarship’.
“I plant seeds, I can’t take the credit,” said Dick Schlatter, who helped organize the creation of the scholarship. “It’s the people that have to respond to something like this and when we said it was for Gary, we had a lot of people respond.
“We also thought it was important to call it the Gary and Marlene Beard Scholarship, because she is a part of everything he’s been involved in.”
Schlatter and a group of former Lakeview coaches gathered names of people who might be interested in helping to create the scholarship. That initial effort by itself raised enough money for the Battle Creek Community Foundation to see fit to help organize the scholarship. Funding is still being collected and anyone interested can make a contribution by sending checks made out to ‘BCCF-Gary and Marlene Beard Fund’ to: The Battle Creek Community Foundation, 34 W Jackson, Battle Creek, MI, 49017.
“For a couple years, we’ve been thinking about this. When you think about Lakeview High School and athletics, you can’t help but think about Gary Beard. He still goes to almost every game,” Schlatter said.
After coming to the district in 1958, Beard had been part of the Lakeview school system in some capacity until 2003. Most of that time he was involved in athletics as a coach and the school’s athletic director.
“It’s a wonderful night. You don’t think something like this would happen, actually, you don’t ever think about it,” Beard said. “This goes beyond what we have already been given by Lakeview. We are already rewarded by going to all the Lakeview events all the time. We have been to eight or nine just this week. We just love the purple and white, so something like this is extra.”