John Beauchamp was an artist, conservationist, and a defender of wildlife. Born in Mankato, Minnesota, in 1925, he had a somewhat isolated childhood, due to an illness, so he kept company with Plato, Socrates, Shakespeare, and Sigurd Olson, among others. He received a master of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1954 and was an instructor of drawing and painting at the University of Minnesota from 1957-1959.
His paintings are in the collections of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, where he lived for part of his adult life. John held a lifelong interest in the Midwest and his natural surroundings, traveling to Isle Royal and the north shore of Lake Superior to gain a deeper understanding.
Beauchamp died in 2019 at the age of 94. He never married and had no children. Before he died, he added the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute to his will. “His main concern and question was ‘Is Northland College tied to the community?’” said Michelle Schnabel, stewardship coordinator, who spoke with him in 2015. “To which he meant, ‘in ways related to being good stewards to the environment.”
This spring, Northland College used a portion of Beauchamp’s estate gift to renovate the building that houses its Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute. Originally constructed in 1981, the building had begun to deteriorate because of water infiltration attributed to a failing roof and the unique, sloped siding of the original building. Beauchamp’s gift allowed the College to repair water damage, add insulation, and replace both the siding and roof of the building.
“Given Beauchamp’s interest in community connections,” Alan Brew, director of the Institute, observed, “this is a particularly appropriate use of his gift because the Institute’s building has long provided a venue for community programs focused on the environment and its stewardship.”
The remainder of Beauchamp’s gift will be used to sustain established programs of the Institute and to expand programs that support writers and artists whose work focuses on the natural world.