Doris L. Beach, 1938-2012: Green Thumb worker helped retirees find jobs

11/24/2012
BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Doris L. Beach, a longtime champion of older workers, died Nov. 13 at Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Toledo. She was 74.

She entered the hospital for health problems about a month ago, then went to a nursing home, and eventually was admitted to hospice, family members and colleagues said.

Miss Beach was remembered for her tireless efforts over roughly 40 years to find job opportunities for the area’s older, low-income workers.

She pursued that passion at Experience Works Inc., a nonprofit organization formerly known as Green Thumb that helps older people obtain training to re-enter the work force.

Miss Beach continued her work for the organization as an employment and training coordinator even in the nursing home, said Tonia Saunders, who worked with her the last four years.

“She was just a people-person. She said that she saw so much need...,” Mrs. Saunders said. “She felt that she was blessed. She was 74 years old and just working as strong as myself.”

Family members said Miss Beach graduated from high school in Pittsburgh. Her sister Lillian Cantrell said Miss Beach at one point worked at a hospital and off-camera in broadcasting.

In Toledo, Miss Beach sought out employers to hire retirees who wanted to return to work, said Billie Johnson, president and chief executive officer for the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc.

She said Miss Beach paid particular attention to those living on fixed incomes who needed jobs to supplement Social Security or pension payments. The two knew each other for at least two decades, and Miss Beach served on the office’s advisory board.

“She was so out-of-the-box and didn’t think in traditional terms of how to find employers who would hire retirees,” Ms. Johnson said. “She went above and beyond and knew how to help a retiree package a skill-set.”

To that passion she added a ready smile, a raspy voice, compassion, and an air of authority, Ms. Johnson said.

In a March, 2012, story in The Blade, Miss Beach said she encouraged the clients she works with to learn new skills, and said changing careers isn’t a problem for baby boomers.

“They have a work ethic — whatever it takes to get the job done,” Miss Beach said, in the article.

Mrs. Saunders called Miss Beach a “phenomenal woman” and “good mentor.” Their jobs required them to travel together, and they shared stories during all that “windshield time,” she said.

“She would push you to your full potential,” she said.

Miss Beach enjoyed walking, traveling, and helping out at her church, St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. Family was important, said her sister Matilda Getty, who said her daughter and grandchildren stayed with Miss Beach.

“She was a very determined lady,” she said. “She had a lot of passion, but she also ... knew her mind, I would say. And when she determined that something should be done a certain way, she knew how to get that done.”

Miss Beach was one of six siblings. She is survived by sisters Lillian Cantrell, Marie Jones, and Matilda Getty.

A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Martin de Porres, following a family hour at 9 a.m. C. Brown Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.