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Thomas J. Beatson, Jr. (1932-2016)

Photo of Tom Beatson

Monday, August 01, 2016

(Phoenix, AZ) – Thomas J. Beatson, Jr., 83, Joslin 50-Year Medalist, friend and benefactor of Joslin Diabetes Center, passed away unexpectedly on Monday, July 25th at his home. 

Tom was the son of Thomas J. and Eleanor (Chesterman) Beatson and grew up in New Rochelle, New York, graduating from New Rochelle High School in 1950. Tom attended Swarthmore College, near Philadelphia, where he majored in electrical engineering, graduating with high honors. Following graduation, Tom was employed by General Electric as a test engineer. He qualified for the GE Advanced Engineering Program and later moved to work at the GE Computer Department Headquarters in Phoenix, AZ, where he made his home until the time of his death. Tom had a successful career there and retired from the company that bought his GE business unit, Honeywell, in 1987.

At the age of 10, Tom was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He recalled that he spent a month in the hospital after lapsing into a coma, following his diagnosis on December 7, 1942. Tom led an active life and never allowed diabetes to stop him from reaching his goals. Tom learned that the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts awarded a medal to recognize individuals who have lived with insulin-dependent diabetes for 50 or more years to honor their accomplishments in diabetes management. In 1996, Tom was awarded his 50 year Medal, beginning a long and proud association with the Center. Tom became active in the Joslin Medalist program and in the Joslin Medalist Study, where individuals who have survived fifty or more years with type 1 diabetes are being studied to determine factors which may allow them to be resistant to the ravaging effects of diabetes. At the time of his death, Tom was planning a celebration in 2017 to mark his 75 years of living with type 1 diabetes.

George King, MD, Chief Scientific Officer at Joslin, reflected on Tom’s passing: “Tom Beatson was one of the original and prominent volunteers for the Medalist Study, which is one of the largest studies of type 1 diabetes in the world, to discover factors that can protect diabetic people from complications. These Medalists, such as Tom, survived type 1 diabetes for at least 50 years, but Tom had it for almost 75 years which is a heroic and rare accomplishment. Tom’s contribution to the Medalist study, both through participation and philanthropy, since its inception 11 years ago, has significantly allowed us to make all the important discoveries that have already changed our understanding regarding the causes of type 1 diabetes and its eventual treatments and cure. We will miss his presence at the Medalist meetings, which he had always attended since 2004.”

In 1978, Tom developed a passion for sport cycling and recognized the health benefits available, while balancing additional challenges due to his type 1 diabetes. Tom kept meticulous records and was very proud to have logged over 100,000 cycling miles by 2010. Tom made many friends through his participation in the Arizona Bicycle Club, where he served as an officer for many years.

Tom served on the Board of Overseers at the Joslin Diabetes Center and became one of its top five philanthropists of all time. His philanthropy established a Playroom for children with diabetes as part of the Child Life Ambassador Program at Joslin, in honor of his mother Eleanor. His desire to find a cure for type 1 diabetes led him to establish several funds to carry on research into type 1 diabetes and its complications, research which continues at Joslin today.

Peter S. Amenta, MD, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Joslin Diabetes Center offered his condolences to the family of Tom Beatson. “The Joslin Diabetes Center has a deep history of accomplishments tied to the commitment of just one man, Dr. Elliott P. Joslin. The history of his institution is indebted to Thomas J. Beatson, Jr., whose philanthropic support of Joslin’s ongoing type 1 diabetes research has helped our scientists develop novel ideas that get us closer to a cure. Like Dr. Joslin, Tom Beatson – just one man – has left a remarkable and inspiring legacy that will continue to benefit persons with diabetes worldwide. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. We are honored and grateful for his actions, and we will miss him deeply.”

Tom was active at The Terraces of Phoenix, a continuing care retirement community managed by American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW). Aware of the financial costs associated with living with and managing type 1 diabetes, Tom established the Beatson-ABHOW Type 1 Diabetes Fund last year, making grants available to improve the lives of team members, their dependent children, and residents diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, within the entire ABHOW family of continuing care communities and its affordable senior housing communities. Tom knew the importance of living a healthy, vibrant life. He wanted others impacted by the disease to be able to put aside their concerns over the expenses of managing a chronic disease and instead, focus on living successfully with type 1, as he had done. Setting up this fund allowed Tom to offer financial relief to those who shared his journey with type 1 diabetes.

Through the years, Tom had many close friends and associates who will remember him fondly. Tom will be greatly missed by his sister, Beverly (Beatson) Grossman and her husband Felix of California; nephews Peter Grossman and his wife Denise, and David Grossman and his wife Jennifer; and grand niece and nephew Kelly and Keith Grossman, all of Los Angeles, California.

Interment will be private and is under the direction of El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego California.  A Memorial celebration will be held in Phoenix Arizona, on September 10, 2016 at The Terraces, 7550 N. 16th Street at 1:30 pm.  Please RSVP to  if you wish to attend.

In lieu of flowers, Tom hoped that gifts would be made in his memory to: 

Joslin Diabetes Center
One Joslin Place, Suite 745
Boston, MA 02215


Beatson-ABHOW Type 1 Diabetes Fund
ABHOW Foundation
6120 Stoneridge Mall Rd., #300
Pleasanton, CA. 94588

(Donate Now, Retirement Communities, Terraces of Phoenix, Beatson Type 1 Diabetes Fund)

Thumbnail Photo of Tom Beatson

Page last updated: August 10, 2016