John (Jack) O. Beahrs


Claudette and John Beahrs

Looking forward to seeing all my college friends at our coming fortieth; interestingly, with many of us being either 62 or in our 62nd year. A brief life summary post-1962: Went to U of Rochester Medical School (NY) for two years, completing the basic sciences portion. Then took three years off as a biologist, during which time I wrote an extended first draft of my first book, "That Which Is...", which built upon a paper of that title that I’d written as a sophomore at PC. Then went back to medical school, getting an MD from Stanford in 1969, and completed psychiatric residency at Western State Hospital and University of Washington in 1973. Private practice in Puyallup and Tacoma WA until marrying the former Claudette Hastie in 1980, a prominent clinical social worker in Portland OR, where I moved to join her and three very outstanding children. We still live in Portland: she, a busy clinical social worker; I, now a professor of psychiatry at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and winding down a career as staff psychiatrist for the Portland VAMC. I love working with veterans, sharing their living history, and the VA’s encouragement of academic pursuits, and the faculty role that I’d always craved. At the same time, I’m eligible to retire this July, after I’m really ‘62, and looking at several alternatives. Tough choices!

More general associations: One of my biggest PC thrills had been playing first French horn for the 1962 Brahms Requiem, Bill Russell was among my most beloved professors, and fond memories came flooding back when I was able to join former glee club members singing at his memorial in Santa Cruz two years ago – five from our class. I still love music, and did some composing in the late 1980’s, including the prelude and fugue in C# that I shared at our 25th in 1987. The past decade, I’ve shifted back to French horn, played in a local community orchestra, performed concerti in 1997 and 1999, and composed a nice but overly demanding French horn quartet in A flat. A more reasonable second one is soon to follow.

I continue to love the great outdoors, climbed all of WA’s mountains over 9,500 ft., completed four trans-Sierra backpacks (the third with my wife Claudette in 1986, and most recent with the Sierra Club in 1999), and summited 19,311-foot Cotopaxi in Ecuador in 1994. On one 1966 trip, with my PC ’64 friend Glenn Pascall, during the height of the Vietnam war, whom did we happen to bump into at 10,000 ft on Mt. Jefferson (OR) but then-Defense-Secretary "Bob" McNamara, whom, even more remarkably, I saw again on a family backpack into the same area in 1988!   A small world.

Since before Pomona, my most all-consuming scientific question had been trying to understand the nature and complexity of "mental reality", particularly consciousness and volition as contrasted with their opposites. This led in part to choosing my career in psychiatry, early work in clinical and research hypnosis, then to volition and responsibility in legal theory, and more recently to evolutionary biology—how the foibles of "human nature" were shaped. Remembering my own excesses and others’ different ones, I still marvel at how adolescence and young adulthood survived natural selection. Those were exciting times, and Pomona was the best, but I now concur that "age and treachery" trump "youth and skill." My best to all.