Retired City of Lindsay employee Cindy Rios said it best when talking about John Beene. He wasn't one who just wore many hats, he “took on all the hats of the city” when it came to the city's leadership.
Beene, who led the city through a difficult time in the late 19070s and early 1980s by taking on all of the city's major leadership positions — and took plenty of criticism for doing it — died on April 23. He was 90.
Beene was already a well-established as the Lindsay Police Chief in the late 1960s. But in the late 1970s, the City of Lindsay faced a financial crisis which led to how the city would go on to manage its public safety. In the late 1970s the city's police and fire departments were combined to form the Lindsay Public Safety Department and Beene led the way.
But not only did Beene take over the public safety department among the other roles he took over was serving as city manager as well. “He did everything,” said Rios about Beene's leadership of Lindsay at the time.
Rios said Beene's action didn't please a lot of people at the time. “I know he got a lot of criticism for it,” she said. “But he did it to try to save the city.”
Rios never actually had the chance to work with Beene as she came to the city of Lindsay just after the time in which Beene took the actions he did in an effort to save the city. She worked as an administrative supervisor under the police chief from 1987-2006.
But Rios and Beene became good friends. “He was one who cared greatly about the city of Lindsay,” she said.
Steve Keithley began as a police officer with the city of Lindsay in 1973 and remembers working patrol as an officer during the day and then sleeping at the fire station at night after the changes that were made under the leadership of Beene.
At the time the idea to combine the police and fire departments as a public safety department wasn't new but it was also rare. “It was quite innovative,” said Keithley, who became a sergeant while working as a police officer in Lindsay
The city was going broke,” he added. “They had to consolidate the services.”
Under Beene's leadership all of the city's police officers went through EMT training as well to keep the city's ambulance services running, Keithley said. Keithley said while the situation wasn't ideal what was done under Beene's leadership kept the fire trucks running and the ambulances going.
“Clearly we weren't trained firemen,” Keithley said. “We were well-trained assistants.”
He said whenever there was a fire call police officers would arrive before the fire engine and begin to work the scene.
Keithley added by the early 1980s what had become the public safety department under Beene's leadership was working well.
While he didn't officially have the title, Beene essentially served as the city's public works director as well. “He was performing that function,” Keithley said.
Beene received no extra compensation for the additional duties he took on. Still, Keithley agreed with Rios that what he was doing wasn't popular with many but Beene too it in stride, he said.
“It's a fair deal with both sides are unhappy,” said Keithley about what Beene would say.
A gravesite service will be held for Beene at 2 p.m. Friday, May 14 at Exeter District Cemetery. Evans Miller Guinn Exeter Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.