Family and friends of Chris Beach — the only Pendletonian to be named Miss Oregon — remember her as a humble, charismatic lady who was always the life of the party.

Beach died at age 63 Thursday at her son Charles Bartlett’s Beaverton home, where she lived since she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011.

Beach competed in the Miss Oregon pageant soon after graduating from Pendleton High School in 1967. She went on to the Miss American competition in 1968. She became involved in the competition because of her talent for singing and jovial personality.

“You could always tell she was attempting to be serious (but) she was definitely always the fun and funny person in the room,”?said Phil Sinclair, one of Bartlett’s childhood friends. “If there are a bunch of people in the room, you’re going to gravitate to her table.”

The soprano had no formal voice lessons, but was in the women’s singing group at PHS called the Tea Sippers. Beach — an avid Audrey Hepburn fan — performed songs from the movie “My Fair Lady” for the Miss Oregon competition and at fairs, parades and other events throughout the state for the year she held the Miss Oregon title.

“(She sang them so much)?I knew all the songs by the age of 8 and I didn’t even know what ‘My Fair Lady’ was,” said her daughter Marie Bartlett, 24, of Pendleton.

Miss Oregon provided Beach with a new car every three months, which allowed her to travel around the state and make appearances at various events including parades, car shows and festivals, said her brother, Bob Beach, 60, of Pendleton. The organization gave her money to buy clothes for the events and an academic scholarship, which she used to attend Blue Mountain Community College.

Marie Bartlett said her mother did not speak of her Miss Oregon days much because she was modest. But she saved all her dresses, trophies and photographs from the events she participated in.

Beach moved to Portland in her late 20s, where she worked as a secretary for the Oregon State Bar. She returned to Pendleton in 1996, where she worked as a graphic artist for the InterMountain Education Service District.

“She wanted to get out of the big city, get back to the quieter, easier life,” Bob Beach said.

———

Contact Chris Rizer at crizer@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.