Hartman Charles “Dub” Beynon passed away at the age of 88 on Nov. 14. He had a full, rich life that was detailed in his obituary. He was a member of the U.S. Army Band. He marched in the presidential inaugural parades for Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. He marched in the funeral procession for President Kennedy, and played Taps at the burial of President Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.
After he retired and his family moved to Stuarts Draft, Virginia, Beynon started a second career as a realtor. He became a deacon of Stuarts Draft Baptist Church. He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather.
“Dub” Beynon was also a Washington Redskins fan.
How do we know this? His family included that fact in his obituary.
These are dark times for Redskins fans, full of pain and poison. That atmosphere has clouded the landscape that this team was once beloved — and, for some, still is — so much so that loved ones have felt compelled to include their family members’ passions for the Redskins in their obituaries.
I remember being struck by the obituaries of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001 in the attack on the Pentagon, and how many included fandom for the Redskins.
An obituary is the public tribute to the life and times of the deceased and often the first and last public posting of someone’s life, published in a local newspaper or a web site. To include the Redskins in that posting is to say that the sum of that person’s life — their identity while they were alive —included being a Redskins fan.
“He was a big Redskins fan, from their days at Griffith Stadium,” said Beynon’s daughter, Cynthia Sakshaug. “He was in the Army and was stationed at Fort Myer in Arlington. That’s when he became a diehard Redskins fan and remained so. We just have a long history that the Redskins are important to our family culture.”
Scan obituaries and you’ll find other tributes from family members who felt that the story of their loved ones’ life included their passion for the Washington Redskins.
Henry Boettcher from Bowie, Maryland, passed away on Dec. 4 at the age of 92. His obituary consisted of the things that made him happy — the Boston Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Army football, West Virginia Mountaineers, dancing, boating, fishing, hunting, family functions — and the Redskins.
“He watched every game,” said his wife, Skip Boettcher. “The only time he missed a game that I could recall was recently when he was ill. Our entire weekends would revolve around the Redskins game. He got a lot of joy out of rooting for the Redskins. The house would be decorated with Redskins paraphernalia for every game, and he would wear Redskins gear.”
And while many of these fans are long-timers, with a lifetime invested in their passion for the Redskins, there are those who came to the party late — at least when it still seemed like a party.
Gillis Bolden from Frederick, Maryland, died on Nov. 16 at the age of 54. He grew up in Detroit and served in the Army for 20 years, with tours in Europe, Turkey and Afghanistan. His obituary said he “loved sports and actively supported his children in baseball and basketball. He was an avid Washington Redskins fan.”
“It meant so much to him,” his former wife, Lydia Lopez, said. “On Sundays when they played, whatever we planned to do that day had to be around the game. If we were going to go out to eat, it had to be before or after the game. He really cared about the team.”
That love, ironically, began the same year that Dan Snyder bought the team and darkness began descending on the franchise. “We came here in 1999, and since then he just loved the Redskins,” Lopez said.
For these fans who passed on, the era of darkness did not diminish their devotion to the Redskins.
“No matter that they were not doing well,” Sakshaug said about her father’s loyalty to the Redskins. “You still had to be on their side and root for them.”
“Even when they lost, it didn’t matter to him,” said Lopez of her former husband’s faith in the team. “He believed they would come back and redeem themselves.”
“It didn’t matter when they were losing,” Boettcher said of his late husband’s love for the franchise. “He was a Redskins fan tried and true.”
For some, the family tradition of rooting for the Redskins over several generations has been strong enough to stand up to what has become a tradition of failure over the past two decades.
“He (Beynon) passed on that love of the Redskins on to me, my husband and his grandsons,” Sakshaug said.
She told a story about that family tradition.
“My Dad was a big storyteller, a big jokester,” Sakshaug said. “When the boys were little he told them in all seriousness that he played for the Redskins and was known as ‘Bomber Beynon.’ He told that story with a complete straight face all his life, and it wasn’t until my sons got older that they found out it was not true. But they kept that joke going about being ‘Bomber Beynon.’ For Christmas one year, they decorated a box and wrote ‘Bomber Beynon’ on the outside and inside was a Redskins jersey that said Beynon on the back that they had special ordered for him. He had it hung up in his assisted living facility.”
Then there was the obituary five years ago that defined the passion of one particular fan from Mechanicsville, Virginia, who passed away -– John Ray Bartgis. His tribute included that fact that he was a “die-hard Washington Redskins fan.
“One of his final wishes was that the team members would be his pallbearers so they can let him down one more time.”
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