Death of Ruth Coates Beeman, Former Missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo

Death of Ruth Coates Beeman, Former Missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo

1/10/1925 – 11/1/2012

Click here to read a tribute to Ruth Beaman

Global Ministries was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Ruth Coates Beeman, former missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo, on November 1, 2012, at Lexington Country Place. 

Ruth was born January 10, 1925, to the late Benjamin S. Coates, Sr. and Ruth B. Coates in Harriston, Virginia.  She graduated from Sparrows Point Maryland High School and entered the Army Nursing Corps in 1943.  She received a Diploma in Nursing from Baltimore General Hospital in1946, a Nurse Midwife Certificate from the Maternity Center Association School of Nurse-Midwifery in New York in 1950, a B.S. in Public Health Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania in1950, a Diploma in Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, in1953, and a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University in1957.  She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Kentucky in 2011.  

She married Robert Beeman in New York in 1968 and until his death in 2002, spending the 34 years in a loving marriage that included child-rearing, world travel, and numerous adventures.  She is survived by her children Robin Hart and Bruce Beeman of Lexington, several grandchildren and great grandchildren.  She is also survived by a brother Ben Coates (Judy) of Topeka, Kansas, two nieces and a nephew.  A sister, Doris Shorter, died in 2009.  

Dr. Beeman spent over six decades as a Nurse Midwife Practitioner and Educator.  She delivered babies in the Bronx, New York, reminiscent of the recent PBS series “Call The Midwife,” going into homes of low income families to provide maternity and basic health care.  She served as a medical missionary for the United Christian Missionary Society of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), predecessor mission body of Global Ministries, in what today is the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1953 through1956.  

Perhaps Ruth Beeman’s most important contribution was an academic career that spanned four decades.  She taught Nurse Midwifery at several universities and retired from academia in 1988 as Dean of the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing in Hyden, Kentucky.  During these four decades, she touched the lives of hundreds of students and created a legacy that will go on for decades to come.  In addition to her regular academic work, she provided consultation to nursing programs and health agencies in the Caribbean, Africa, Central America, and Europe.  After retiring from academia, she continued to consult with national and international programs, served as a mentor to students, and participated in several community humanitarian works.  She ended her almost 70 year nursing career as a Parish Nurse at Central Christian Church in Lexington remaining active until early 2012.  

A Memorial Service was held on November 16, 2012, at Central Christian Church, Lexington, Kentucky. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made in her honor to the Frontier Nursing University Scholarship Fund (195 School St, Hyden, KY 41749) or the Central Christian Church Parish Nursing Program, 205 E. Short Street, Lexington, Kentucky   40588-1459.  Condolences may be sent to Bruce S Beeman, 690 Mason Headley Rd, Apt 420, Lexington, KY 40504-2386.



NPR’s “The Story” a few days ago featured a talk with May Gaskin, a modern midwife. And listening to her speak brought to mind a dear friend of my late parents—and a midwifery advocate—Ruth Beeman Coates.

My mother gradated from the nursing program at West Baltimore General Hospital during the Second World War. And in 1946, my parents, Calvin and Mary Glover, purchased their first home on Riggs Avenue, just around the corner from the hospital. From what I heard and what I remember, Ruth stayed with parents for some time, and she became like a member of the family. My dad had nickname for Ruth—Kiesel.

As Ruth’s career progressed, we would occasionally have visits from her at our home in Baltimore’s Rognel Heights. Her move to New York and Flower and Fifth Hospital impressed my mom enormously.

It is from Ruth that I first heard about the Belgian Congo.

So, after listening to “The Story,” I did a Google search on Ruth and found your loving obituary. Although I am sad to hear of her passing, it was uplifting to see her many accomplishments and what a rich life she had. Your obit mentioned that Ruth came from Harriston, VA, in Augusta County. A little Google Maps revealed that it was the same county in which my mom was born. I wonder if my mom and Ruth every figured that one out.



Calvin Glover, Jr
Kill Devil Hills, NC