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June 23, 2021

Professor Emeritus Norman Beachley passes away

Written By: Staff


Mechanical Engineering Professor Emeritus Norman Beachley passed away on May 23, 2021, in Madison, Wisconsin.

 Norman Beachley
Norman Beachley

Beachley served in the U.S. Air Force from 1957-1959, designing rocket components for launching satellites into orbit. He met the love of his life, Marion Iglehart, when her brother (his roommate) introduced the two when he was a student at Cornell University. They married and moved to California in 1959, where he worked for Hughes Aircraft Company and Space Technology Laboratories. During that time, he designed and built his one-of-a-kind sports car, the “Beachley Belchfire.” Its maiden voyage took him from California to New York, to begin his PhD program at Cornell.

From 1966-1994, Beachley worked as a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he researched improving fuel economy for motor vehicles through energy storage techniques using flywheel or hydropneumatic accumulators and was the advisor for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) student racing group.

A lifelong musician, Beachley “created” his own personal percussion section when he gave Marion a drum set for Christmas in 1996. They proceeded to have great fun playing together with Midtown Jazz, and later, as a much sought-after duo who wowed audiences throughout the Madison area, especially at their retirement community, Capitol Lakes.

Family was very important to Beachley. He loved being a father to his three daughters, enthusiastically attending all of their sporting, music, and scholastic events. Later in life, he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, particularly sharing his love of music, which included some lively intergenerational jam sessions. He was known for his dry wit, clever quips, and astute observations.

Beachley is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marion; and their children, Brenda (John) Warren, Becky (Steve) Klunk, and Barb (Randy) Stenson; his sister, Cherry Stahlman; and six grandchildren.

Read Beachley’s obituary here.