Eric and Pam Bealer transcended their earthly bodies in September of 2018. They chose to leave a legacy gift for Wilderness and left their estate to the Sitka Conservation Society’s Living Wilderness Fund. The Sitka Conservation Society considers this a great honor and we are humbled by their gift. We will honor their love of the wilderness through the stewardship of these spectacular areas of intact ecosystems and by working to protect West Chichagof–Yakobi Wilderness so that future generations may continue to be as inspired by this remarkable place as Eric and Pam were.
Pam and Eric with some of their beloved animals
Eric and Pam lived surrounded by the Tongass National Forest. They fell in love with the wild, remote, rugged coastline of southeast Alaska and decided to make a home in the middle of the West Chichagof–Yakobi Wilderness, in a bay daunting to access for even experienced locals. It is a magical place, often shrouded in mists where the ocean meets the edges of temperate rainforest. Both talented artists, they were fed, warmed, and inspired by the natural world of the Tongass.
The West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness
Art in all they did
In addition to being a talented wood engraver, Eric was an expert carpenter, boat builder, and woodworker. Pam was a fiber artist and spun wool from her own sheep, utilized natural dyes, and incorporated hair and fur from horses and dogs into her yarn tapestries and weavings. In their home in the West Chichagof–Yakobi Wilderness, Eric and Pam built a life that was as self-reliant and connected to the land as possible; they raised chickens and turkeys, cultivated their own food, and built their house and much of their furniture from logs that washed up on the beaches.
The connection that Eric had with the Tongass is seen through his beautiful artwork. He looked closely, noticed the finer details, and appreciated and included all facets of the forest ecosystem equally for their inherent beauty. If you look closely at the details of his work, you will see the faces of forest spirits and references to Mother Earth, often resembling his dear wife, Pam.
Eric Bealer making prints
Letting Go by Eric Bealer
Surge Bay Puffins by Eric Bealer
Swan Song by Eric Bealer
West Chichagof Wilderness provided a home and inspiration for Eric and Pam. The inspiration that this marvelous landscape creates is also the reason that people originally united to form the Sitka Conservation Society in 1967. The area was scheduled to be clearcut by the pulp mills, but the dedicated citizen activists who formed as the Sitka Conservation Society fought to save it from this fate. After 13 years of advocacy, the West Chichagof–Yakobi Wilderness area was designated by Congress.
Eric and Pam were as connected to each other as they were to the West Chichagof–Yakobi Wilderness. The legacy they chose to leave behind is one of protection and honor for these lands. The Bealer's living-with-the-land and wilderness values are shared by the Sitka Conservation Society and the Living Wilderness Fund and it is our honor to uphold this legacy and love of sacred wild places.
Sea Pony Farm sunset
Pam and Eric Bealer at an art opening for one of Eric's many Southeast Alaska gallery shows
We are incredibly grateful for Eric and Pam’s gift to our Living Wilderness Fund, and for how beautifully they expressed their shared love of West Chichagof and deep connection to nature through their art, their inspirational partnership, and the way they manifested their values through the ways they lived their lives. We are honored that Pam and Eric believed in our work so deeply that they entrusted their legacy to us. May we continue to be inspired and transformed by Eric and Pam’s love for the forest, their legacy of advocacy for the wilderness of southeast Alaska, and by the art they left behind for us to remember.