She gave generously of herself
Alice Beltram passed away June 9 at the age of 87 in the home she shared with her husband, Robert Beltram, in Grass Valley. She had bravely endured a long illness.
Mrs. Beltram will be remembered as a beautiful woman who loved life, loved to laugh and always was kind and generous to the people around her.
Mrs. Beltram was born May 22, 1920, to Ezra and Lima Milhous in Lindsay. Her cousin was U.S. President Richard Milhous Nixon.
Raised during the Depression and one of nine children, Mrs. Beltram developed the character of a fighter. With food and basic supplies scarce, the nine children slept in two beds.
On at least one occasion, Mrs. Beltram’s mother fried up alfalfa for her large brood when nothing else was around. Even when food was scarce, Mrs. Beltram’s family always kept a plate for any “hobo” passing through. When flour was available, Mrs. Beltram’s mother would bake a 55-gallon barrel full of bread and would sew clothes for her three girls from the flour sacks.
Mrs. Beltram’s father drove teams of 18 or more horses, plowing fields by hand in the days when motorized tractors were in short supply. The family followed the crops, living in many places.
Despite a life riveted with adversity, Mrs. Beltram learned how to work hard, how to make food and clothing out of seemingly nothing, conserve any material that might be valuable, how to stand up for herself and how to be kind to people around her. In the days when it was not popular to learn Spanish, Mrs. Beltram became fluent in the language so she could reach out to the Hispanic people also following the crops.
At an early age, Mrs. Beltram prided herself on her spelling and pronunciation. Despite moving often, Mrs. Beltram was very studious and won many spelling bees against students in grades above hers. After graduating from high school, she went to Whittier and worked for her aunt, Hannah Milhous Nixon, who was the mother of President Richard Nixon.
Mrs. Beltram flourished under the nurturing love of her aunts, and her individual talents began to show. She learned how to handle fine materials, be an exceptional homemaker and how to conduct herself as a lady.
She was always proud of her cousin, President Nixon. She remembered him as a passionate young man who poured himself into his studies and his piano playing. She described the many evenings she spent listening to him pound out difficult classical pieces on the family piano.
The Nixon boys were very particular about the white starched cotton shirts they wore, and Mrs. Beltram learned how to starch and iron them perfectly. In later years, Mrs. Beltram attended the Inauguration of her famous cousin. For her, it was one of the peaks of her life.
While working for Hannah Nixon, Mrs. Beltram met her first husband. After completing college courses, Mrs. Beltram became the wife of Gene Needham. Although World War II separated the young couple, they were able to raise their four children in peacetime.
Mr. Needham was the game warden of San Luis Obispo County, and his salary was meager. Like her mother, Mrs. Beltram was resourceful and excelled at sewing clothing for her children and draperies, pillows and comforters for her home. She cut, processed, packaged and froze venison, beef and rabbit, and she canned fruits and vegetables.
Once a month she used her husband’s salary to go to the grocery store and buy things she couldn’t make. Mrs. Beltram provided her family with a comfortable living by working hard in her domestic role.
As making a living gradually became easier, Mrs. Beltram took an interest in art. She expressed her love for the arts through ceramics, wrought iron, gardening and dancing. When her children began leaving home, Mrs. Beltram continued to explore her artistic side and also entered women’s retail sales.
Eventually she invested in real estate with her husband. They purchased and improved rental properties, doing all of the reconstruction work themselves. Mrs. Beltram’s outgoing, upbeat personality complemented her beautiful smile, and coupled with her hardworking ethic, allowed her to succeed in all of her financial endeavors.
Mrs. Beltram moved to Grass Valley in the mid-1980s after her husband died. She eventually designed her own home at Lake Wildwood. She carpeted the house in a pale rose pink carpet that gave her endless joy. She began attending community dances, where she later met Robert Beltram. Both were graceful ballroom dancers. The couple fell in love and were married in 1992. They lived a lovely, romantic life full of dancing and entertaining.
Mr. and Mrs. Beltram started the Senior Center Dances in Grass Valley and gave dance lessons to all who were interested. They also ran the Grange dances for many years. Eventually, Mr. and Mrs. Beltram paved the rocky road into the Grange so that more people might venture into the dances and find the joy that they had found.
The couple also became part of a traveling dance group, who often won prizes in dance contests. Mr. and Mrs. Beltram were two of the best dancers in the group. Once, while they were dancing for live musicians, the crowd that gathered threw money to the couple instead of to the musicians.
Mr. and Mrs. Beltram also attended charity functions and made many donations to various worthy causes in the area. The couple knew what it was like to have nothing and be in desperate need.
Mrs. Beltram was one of the original “health nuts.” She didn’t drink coffee or alcohol and didn’t smoke in times when it was very popular to do all three. Her healthy living habits allowed her to live a vibrant, active life well into her 80s.
Although Mrs. Beltram endured a difficult illness the past five years of her life, she never lost her beautiful smile, her fighter’s drive or her love of life. She was loved by many people and will be greatly missed.
Mrs. Beltram is survived by her husband, Robert Beltram, and her four children, Sue, Penny, Cheri, and Bob Needham.
A Celebration of Memories for Mrs. Beltram will be held at Chapel of the Angels Mortuary in Grass Valley on Saturday, June 16, at 10 a.m. A wake reception will follow at the home of Robert Beltram.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to the University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, 1 (800) 821-7967.
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