In Memoriam: Frederick J. Beste, III

Posted on December 11, 2018 in Giving

Hawk Mountain mourns the loss of its long-time supporter and board chairman Fred Beste

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Hawk Mountain mourns the loss of Sanctuary Chairman of the Board Frederick J. Beste, III, who died December 8. Fred was a long-time and steadfast supporter of Hawk Mountain and its local-to-global raptor conservation programs, and made significant contributions to virtually every program area.

“Fred was tremendously excited by the current trajectory of Hawk Mountain and the many successes over the past decade, which were in no small part due to his leadership,” says President Sean Grace. 

“He was highly successful in both business and in life because of his perseverance and perpetually glass-half-full perspective, which now stands as a lesson to each of the staff and board members who knew him,” he adds.

Fred was as passionate about the Sanctuary as he was its programs, and had a true love of the outdoors and of birds. He was a frequent face at the North Lookout each autumn, usually first appearing in mid-September in hopes of seeing kettles of broad-winged hawks. Despite his heart condition, he was able to make a final trek with his wife Polly in October 2018.

Fred joined the board in 2001 and served as treasurer, vice chairman, and most recently, as chairman of the board. During his tenure, Hawk Mountain opened its Acopian Center for Conservation Learning, upgraded and expanded the Irma Broun-Kahn Education Building, and constructed an accessible trail to the South Lookout. He served as chairman of the Sanctuary’s annual Benefit for the Birds Gala, spearheaded fundraising to boost the land conservation fund and the director of education endowment, and annually led the charge to generate the strongest board support possible for the Sanctuary’s year-end giving campaign. Most recently, he pledged funds to produce professional videos to market the Sanctuary’s international training program and overall global reach.

“This is a huge loss for both for the Sanctuary as an organization, and for the board and staff as a family,” says Sanctuary Vice Chairman Scott Weidensaul.

“Fred loved Hawk Mountain. He was a tireless ambassador to the Sanctuary, and it was a singular privilege to have served for the past four years as his vice-chair,” he adds. 

The eldest of four children, Fred earned his B.A. in Economics from Stetson University in 1968, and spent his entire career in the venture capital industry, beginning with an internship and, later a position, in Washington, DC, where he met his wife. In 1975, he joined a private venture capital development firm in Kentucky where he served as vice president and, ultimately, president and CEO.

In 1984, Fred, Polly and their two daughters moved to Bethlehem, PA, and he joined Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds as the founding president and CEO. During the course of his career, Fred served on the boards of countless operating companies and advised and worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. He was widely published on the subjects of venture capital and entrepreneurship, did extensive public speaking on both subjects, and earned many accolades, including service as courtesy professor in the MBA program at Cornell University, guest lectures at Lehigh University, and years of service on Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority Board. 

For those at Hawk Mountain, Fred was a long-time mentor and leader, an articulate ambassador of the Sanctuary’s mission, and a dear friend and colleague. At home, Fred received much joy from his wife and family as well as his 25-plus-year hobby, the “Select Literate Friends’ Annual Anthology,” which resulted in its own community of friends and the sharing of great books and story-telling. 

The Hawk Mountain Visitor Center will be closed on the day of the memorial service, Tuesday, December 18. The service will be held at 2 PM at the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, 18017.