Councilman Jim Bean remembered for ‘devoted’ service to community

City officials Monday remembered City Councilman Jim Bean as a man who cared passionately for his community and was particularly concerned about the safety of those who walked and biked its streets and sidewalks.

Bean, 68, died Sunday of a heart attack, just over a month after undergoing surgery to correct an earlier heart attack, colleagues said.

“Jim was very devoted to the city,” said Mayor Craig Fentiman, who served with Bean on the City Council since 1993, when Bean took his council seat after being elected in November 1992. “He always was. Basically, as far as he was concerned, he wanted to do what was good for the community.”

Bean and his wife of 44 years, Hiromi, could frequently be seen walking the streets in the downtown area and they made regular stops in local restaurants such as Lorene’s and Subway.

“He and his wife loved to walk,” said Police Chief Bob Burford. “You could find them at Subway just about any day, chatting with visitors to the community, selling the community.”

Bean served as a Sweet Home police officer from 1978 to 1986, according to city officials. He brought a passion for law enforcement to the council, City Manager Craig Martin said.

“A couple of the things he was really passionate about were police and traffic safety,” Martin said.

Bean chaired the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, which advises the City Council on traffic and pedestrian issues, since his arrival on the council, Martin and Fentiman said,

“Most recently, he was really excited and proud to be a part of getting annual safety fairs established,” Martin noted. “That was one of his big things.”

Councilman Jim Gourley, who was elected to the council the same time Bean was, in 1992, said Bean “cared deeply about the community.

“He always wanted to be involved,” Gourley said. “Every two weeks (at council meetings) he would say, ‘We’re going to work on bicycle and pedestrian safety.'”

Born Feb. 7, 1942 in Idaho, Bean grew up in Forest Grove and graduated from high school there. He attended Portland Community College and earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice. He served in the Marines for 10 years, working as a utility crewman aboard a C-130 and then transferring to artillery. He served two and a half tours in Vietnam, 1965 to 1968.

He returned to the United States and went to work with his brother-in-law making booms for cranes. He also started a security company with a friend in Portland. Through that, he got a chance to go to work as a police officer in Cornelius. He moved from there to Drain and then to the Sweet Home Police Department.

After stepping down from the department, he worked in various lumber mills, including Triple T Studs in Cascadia for 16 years, in Coburg and at Bauman Lumber, between Sweet Home and Lebanon, both before and after it was renamed Weyerhaeuser Santiam Lumber.

He and Hiromi, who were frequently seen tooling around the area in their white Subaru with a black luggage box on top, have a son, James Jr., who is a teacher and coach in Carson City, Nev. They have three grandchildren, Jasmine, Jordan and Britany.

Gourley said when his son was attending Pacific University in Forest Grove, where Bean had grown up, Bean would frequently inquire about the state of things there.

“He was real interested in Forest Grove,” Gourley said. “Every year I’d bring him back calendars from Forest Grove. He seemed to like those.”

He said he believes Bean “felt a bond with the people of Sweet Home,” having served as a police officer and then worked in the local mills for many years.

Martin said Bean was a council member who was always “well-prepared” for council lmeetings

“He spent a lot of time researching issues, studying material in packets, talking with staff, and, more importantly, talking with people in the community about projects that would impact them,” he said.

Fentiman echoed that assessment.

As mayor, with six terms with him, he always was prepared,” Fentiman said. “He did his homework. He got his questions answered so he could make an intelligent decision. He liked to get all his facts so he could get his information in front of him.”

He said Bean was a particularly strong backer of constructing the new city water treatment facility, which opened last year.

Burford said Bean was “an avid supporter of the Police Department” who “always was working tirelessly to make sure our levies were successful.”

Bean was one of the more visibly active council members in the SHARE downtown revitalization effort, attending meetings and getting involved, along with Fentiman, in downtown cleanup days.

“He was a real advocate for the community, for citizen involvement,” said Martin.

“That’s one of the things we are going to miss.”