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Meet Beach Watch Volunteer Frank Beering
Interview by Dru Devlin
How did you first hear about Beach Watch?
I was just reading the newspaper and I saw an article with this program looking for volunteers. I always was interested in beaches. I was the president of the Central California Council Diving Club and I thought it would be a good thing to do. It turned out that Ed Ueber (former marine sanctuary manager) was running Beach Watch, and we knew each other because our kids went to the same school.
Where are you from and what are your other interests?
I was born and reared right here in San Francisco. I went to St. Cecilia, St. James All Boys School (where I got in a bit of trouble), and St. Ignatius High School. Afterwards, I went to USF and studied Airborne Training. I joined the Army and learned to jump out of air planes and became a military SCUBA diving ranger. I always liked the dangerous assignments. Throughout life I never did it the way others did.
I retired 25 years ago. Now mostly I volunteer. It is a way to come back and give back. I should be dead by now and have done lots of stupid things in my life. Now it is all about the pay back. I am not proud of some things I did in my life, and now I have another chance. I enjoy what I am doing. I also collect teddy bears. I have a whole room with over 200 from all over the world. Most of them are made in China.
Is it true that you created the first Bar Code?
I didn’t actually create the Bar Code, I merely figured out another use for it. I worked in the distribution and packaging industry. At that time large freight shipped by railcars had a code tracking id system throughout the rail system. I had become frustrated with store inventory systems and saw that a similar system of coding could be used if miniaturized. At a packaging convention, I suggested the idea of a new use of the technology by miniaturizing the code system. This was developed for the grocery industry. It had a huge impact on shelving, ordering and inventory. This allowed me to retire comfortably.
Do you volunteer for other organizations?
Yes, I have a busy week. I lead meetings at the VA Substance Day Hospital. I cook meals for the Most Holy Redeemer Homeless Program. Jack Mona and I work with GGNRA as volunteers cleaning up weeds from the parking lot to the beach. We helped them re-grade the stairs at Lands End (now known as Mile Rock Beach). Now there are 307 steps matched perfectly to my stride, a football player stride. I always help with CA Coastal Clean up Day. We call ourselves the DASOB, Daughters and Sons of a Beach.
Tell us about your most unusual beach find.
I believe I have the distinction in Beach Watch to have found the most dead human bodies. I found the “German tourist” on my very first survey. I called it in to the police, and they didn’t know there was a body at the beach. I also found the two legs and the arm of a horse jockey who had been missing from the race track under mysterious circumstances. I also found a 48 foot gray whale. They removed the carcass and blew it up at sea but the bones returned.
Do you ever think of giving up your beach?
Well, I suppose if I can’t physically do it, I would have to ask for another beach. We used to do Lands End beach with its 234 stairs leading down (before we helped GGNRA grade them to 307) and then going back up. That got a bit much so now we do China Beach. It only has 104 steps.
What do you love about Beach Watch?
I really look forward to it. I like seeing and being part of something getting done.
Tell us about your Beach Watch partner, Jack Mona:
I couldn’t do it without him. He’s the driver.
Do you have any advice for fellow or future Beach Watchers?
Leave an area better than you found it. You will always be welcome back.
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