VANCOUVER — Developer and businessman Keith Beedie has passed away.
Beedie, who died late last month at age 91, turned a family furniture business into one of Vancouver's biggest developers and transitioned later in life from construction to philanthropy.
According to the Beedie family obituary, his first business was a 1,200-square-foot concrete block furniture workshop on a 50-foot lot in the Vancouver neighbourhood of Marpole that he started in partnership with friend Fred Banbury.
Beedie went on to manufacture furniture and build the show fronts, ticket booths and entrances for the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), but eventually dissolved his partnership with Banbury and continued woodworking with new partner Carey Degear before eventually shutting down the woodworking business as cheaper, mass-produced furniture from eastern Canada entered the B.C. market.
After a stint in construction as a framer, roofer and carpenter, Beedie formed Beedie Construction in 1954. The company built houses in Metro Vancouver, Burnaby and North and West Vancouver.
Beedie became known in the 1960s for building the PNE prize homes, a custom-built house that attendees of the PNE fair entered to win on an annual basis. The company expanded in 1962-63 into industrial and commercial construction when the Vancouver housing market hit a low point.
"Over the next half-century, what started with a small concrete-block workshop became more than 20-million square feet of development," the obituary stated.
Ryan Beedie, Kieth Beedie's youngest son, joined the company in 1992 and oversaw industrial park and building development.
According to the company's website, over the last half of the 1990s Beedie Development Group "constructed over 60 buildings, translating into a completion rate of approximately one a month."
Beedie turned the company over to his son Ryan in 2001 and formed the Keith and Betty Beedie Foundation, which established academic and athletic scholarships at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and built a $1-million baseball diamond named Beedie Field.
Beedie also donated $22 million to SFU in 2011 to create the Beedie School of Business, and in 2016 was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from SFU.
"Keith Beedie leaves behind a legacy that is so much more than buildings and land assets. It is the example of a man who accomplished the extraordinary simply by believing it was possible," the family obituary stated.
Beedie is survived by Betty Beedie, his wife of 51 years, and four children as well as 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.