Johannes "Hans" Beichert
Johannes "Hans" Beichert, age 84, passed away on November 8, 2012. He was born July 1, 1928, in Breslau, Germany to Georg and Ida Beichert. Hans was a master brick mason for 45 years. His skills and craftsmanship were in constant demand. From simple back yard projects to complex commercial structures, including stone lodges at Deer Valley ski resort in Park City and the Mormon Temple in San Diego, Hans did it all. With the help of his father, he built his own home in 1964 and years later, he would build his own cabin in Azure Cove at Bear Lake. His kids would benefit from his construction knowledge by having him work several building and remodeling projects on their homes. Hans was known for constantly being involved in a project and wouldn't stop working on it until it was finished.
Bear Lake was where Hans loved to spend his summer weekends with friends and family. When it came to water skiing, he had a few memorable moments. One was when he crash landed at the boat dock where everyone screamed, but luckily no one was hurt. Another was when he skied across the width of Bear Lake, an impressive 7 miles!
His childhood and young life were interesting. Born in a large eastern German town (Breslau) in 1928, Hans would spend his initial years growing up in an apartment building living with his parents and grandparents. At around 10 years of age, his family moved to a large property in a village where they had a few farm animals and a large garden. One of Hans' favorite pets was "Oscar the sheep" who pulled the neighbor kids around in a wagon. Hans had to run in front of Oscar to get him to go. To make the kids in the wagon a little scared, Hans would run really fast.
In 1945 when Hans was 16, he was drafted by the German army to participate in WWII. The war ended soon, so Hans returned home only to find Breslau destroyed. He would tell stories of how he and his friend were the only two people walking in miles of rubble. "An eerie feeling, it was," he would say. Misfortune continued when he was found and captured by French soldiers and placed in a POW camp for one year. For two more years he was made a slave at a Frenchman's farm. Hans would say, "I didn't care much for that French farmer." Finally in 1948, Hans would be released and had to begin the search for his family. By keeping in contact with relatives through letter writing, he found them in Nordhorn, West Germany. Hans moved there, learned the skills of bricklaying, and bought a motor cycle. He had a few motor cycle stories of when he picked up passengers and found they had fallen off somewhere along the ride. No one was hurt (according to him).
In 1954, Hans and his parents packed their belongings, took the train to the harbor, boarded a large ship and began the several day journey to the United States. "I was one of the lucky few that didn't get seasick," he would thankfully say. His family settled in Salt Lake City. "Why Salt Lake City?" his kids would later ask. Hans' mother had relatives who converted to Mormonism and had already migrated to SLC. He explained that his family went where they already knew people. Hans quickly realized SLC didn't have the same beer that Deutschland had, "But," he said, "the fruit juice was really good." Like most folks who move here, Hans fell in love with the Wasatch Front scenery and surroundings.
In Germany, Hans' neighbor, Renate Opolony, would also move from Germany to SLC, and on August 16th, 1957, Hans married her. Together, they raised three children (Bernie, Carolyn and Andy) whom he taught the value of hard work, honesty, the beautiful outdoors, and God. They love him dearly and regard him as a great inspiration and hero.
Hans is survived by his wife, three children, grandchildren (Gabrielle, Amanda and Ferrell) and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Heidel. A Funeral Mass will be held Friday, November 16, 1:00pm at St. Vincent Catholic Church, 1375 Spring Lane, Salt Lake City. A viewing will be held one hour prior to Mass and the Interment Dedication will follow at Mt. Calvary Cemetery. Afterwards, everyone is invited to a celebration of his life at the Beichert residence where food and drink will be served.
With his unique humor and strong work ethic, Hans made an impression on many people he met. Among several things, we'll remember his kidding around, joyful singing, accordion and organ playing, and of course, him asking, "Why aren't you done with that yet?" We love and miss you dad and thank you for the quality upbringing you gave us! We know that your death in this life is but a birth to a new life, and we figure you'll find a bottle of Guckenheimer there. Like you used to sing, "Nothing could be finer than a drink of Guckenheimer in the morning…"