On Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, the Honorable Arthur E. Bean, Jr., was born in Concord, NH, where his monumental legacy serving his country and state began. The son of Arthur E. and Beulah (Sargent) Bean, Sr., Bean graduated from Concord High School in 1936, went on to attend UNH, then enlisted with the United States Army Air Corps as a flying cadet in the 1940s, serving active duty for seven years.
During World War II, he led the 8th Air Force on a raid of Berlin, Germany and due to his bravery, was decorated four times with the Air Medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Coeur de Guer, and five battle stars, after flying a total of 29 missions altogether. As a bomber pilot, he frequently encountered horrific situations but nonetheless, considered himself, among other survivors, the fortunate ones. He went off active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel and was promoted to full Colonel during his service in the reserves where he remained until 1970.
Judge Bean continued his education at the Boston University School of Law, and the National Judicial College located at the University of Nevada, Reno. As an adjunct to his budding career, Bean also opened the historic Robin’s Nest Restaurant in northern New Hampshire with his father while attending law school.
He was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar in 1951, and from then until 1957, he served in the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office under Attorney Generals Gordan Tiffany and Louis Wyman. In 1957, he opened the Manchester law firm, Wyman and Bean, and continued there for twenty years. During that time, he served as the chair of the State of New Hampshire Personnel Commission, appointed by former Governor Walter Peterson. He also served as a member and chairman of the Eminent Domain Commission.
His aspirations for the legal system broadened, and he was appointed by then Governor Meldrim Thompson to the bench on July 15, 1977, where he was revered for his fairness and integrity as a Superior Court Judge until his retirement in 1988. As such, he served on various committees including the Judicial Conduct Committee, appointed by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
After his retirement, Judge Bean acted as a judicial referee within the court system and in private practice. As a mediator and arbitrator, he provided parties with his vast legal knowledge and downright common sense on over 700 cases. He was a member and Honorary Fellow of the New Hampshire Bar Association and held membership in the Manchester Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
Judge Bean was an avid golfer and if not actively playing, he was critiquing the game on television with his ever-judicious eye. During his lifetime, he was a member of the Concord Country Club, the Wonnalancet Club, and a current member of the Manchester Country Club, whose worn red cap with the club’s insignia, he wore daily. Just last year, Judge Bean attended 26th annual Quid Pro Bono Tournament at Sunapee Country Club among 96 other players on the course. As the Bar’s oldest living member at 100 years of age, his team placed second!
In 2019, Judge Bean was the recipient of the UNH Granite State Award traditionally presented during commencement. Provost Wayne Jones Jr., however, took the honor to Bean at his home and at the same time, presented him with a long overdue honorary degree - a moment which made the judge very proud. Judge Bean was ageless in so many ways and was an active member of Planet Fitness through much of 2019. Several days per week, he could be found at the gym pedaling contentedly on a bike or lifting free weights while other members looked on in utter amazement.
Bean’s closest friends and family agree that his optimism and zest for life are the traits that garnered his many successes. When asked once what his secret to longevity was, Judge Bean was quoted as saying, “The only thing you have got to be is lucky. I think I was lucky.”
After an illustrious lifetime, Judge Bean passed away from natural causes on Sunday, February 23, 2020, with his faithful wife, Gail, by his side. Just days before his death, with eyes that struggled to see and hands that trembled, he wrote these loving words inside a sentimental Valentine’s Day card to her. “My darling Gail, the words above explain, or try to, but no words could ever know my feelings when I see you returning. Our love overflowed and Darling, this can’t be all, but if it is then there is no bigger love than mine for you. It was bigger than my work as a pilot, a lawyer or a judge.”
As Gail held the card closely, she said, “He was my best friend who stood patiently by my side through so much. He was truly the wind beneath my wings.”
The Honorable Arthur E. Bean, Jr. was right. He was lucky, as was Gail, and the rest of us who had the privilege to have known and loved a man who was destined for greatness in so many ways.
Besides his wife, he leaves behind a son, David Bean and his wife Penny of Concord, NH, two granddaughters, Gretchen Bean and Roxanne Dombrowski, a son-in-law, Stan Dombroski, and three great-granddaughters; a stepson, Rocco Boulay of Manchester, a stepdaughter, Gina White of Chester, and several step-grandchildren and close friends who will miss him dearly.
Services: Calling hours will be held on Thursday, March 5 from 4-7 pm at Goodwin Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 607 Chestnut Street, Manchester. A Memorial service with Military honors will be held on Friday, March 6 at 10:30 am at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery, 110 Daniel Webster Hwy, Boscawen, NH 03303 in the chapel.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Arthur E. Bean, please visit our floral store.