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Famed county icon Beeler dies

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christmas is just around the corner, but the spirit of the season might be a little dimmer this year -- Bill Beeler, Clay County's own beloved "Santa Claus" for the past 60 years, died Monday.

Beeler's daughter, Lisa Wallen, voiced her family's appreciation of the community support during her father's recent illness, but declined further comment during this time of mourning when contacted by The Brazil Times Monday afternoon.

People of all ages sent Beeler cards and letters of encouragement after he was hospitalized at Terre Haute Regional Hospital in late October. The mail kept coming when Beeler was moved to Clay County Health Center and Rehabilitation Services to recuperate.

"Bill was always a big man, even in high school, and he had an even bigger heart," former editor of The Brazil Times Jim Dressler said.

Even before the creation of the annual Christmas in the Park celebration, Dressler said that many people throughout the county would have special memories of Beeler "spreading Christmas cheer" as Santa.

"Some Santas may have had a price, but Bill never took money for sitting somewhere to meet children for Christmas or go to people's homes for the holidays," Dressler said about Beeler's holiday spirit. "Bill was a true Santa Claus."

Funeral arrangements are pending at French Funeral Home.

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What a great loss to the Brazil and Clay County communities, and for all who knew "Santa Clause, Bill Beeler". What a truly wonderful man he was. Rest in peace Santa Clause Bill

-- Posted by tjsaunt#1 on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 9:56 PM

What a wonderful man with a great sense of humor. I am truly honored to have called him my friend. Lisa, my family's prayers are with your family. GOD Bless.

The entire community will miss him.

Steve Lamb

-- Posted by steve47834 on Tue, Nov 20, 2007, at 8:31 AM

I must say that he will be truly missed by my family. He would come down to my dad's house every year and tell stories and let the kids sit on his lap and he was never in a hurry. When he sang it would bring a tear to my eye. The community will greatly miss him but I feel that a little bit of Santa Claus lives in us all.

-- Posted by beautiful978 on Tue, Nov 20, 2007, at 9:01 AM

This is the Santa I know, as every year he would play Santa since I was born. Other Santa's just didn't seem right and I knew who Santa really was... it was Bill. Hopefully someone can take on the role as Santa so the future generation can have someone like Bill as their Santa, but it will be so hard to take Bill's place.

-- Posted by OntheRight08 on Tue, Nov 20, 2007, at 10:08 AM

I'm in my 40s, my children 20 & 14 and we all know Bill Beeler as "Santa Clause". This is a HUGE loss for the residents of Brazil and Clay County. He had a heart of gold and the voice of an angel. Thank you, Mr. Beeler for bringing so much joy to so many children, year after year. Your selfless act did not go unnoticed. My condolences to his family .. what an honor it was to know this man.

-- Posted by Emmes on Tue, Nov 20, 2007, at 11:00 AM

For the past 30 years I have taken my kids, and then my grandkids, to sit on Santas lap, either at local stores or in Forest Park. I just want to take this chance to thank Bill's family for sharing him with the Brazil Community and tell them that they are appreciated and will be in our prayers.

-- Posted by Icareaboutbrazil on Wed, Nov 21, 2007, at 6:39 AM

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