Former Yakima mayor dies: 'He wanted to help people come together'

Former Yakima mayor dies: 'He wanted to help people come together' »Play Video
Rep. Norm Johnson, prime sponsor of House Resolution 4660, stands with Henry and Wilma Beauchamp in the House chamber. The resolution, which passed unanimously, honors Henry Beauchamp for his years of public service in Washington.

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A man who dedicated so much of his life to Yakima has died. Henry Beauchamp was the first black mayor in Yakima and served on city council for 24 years.

His leadership helped open a community center that is still around today.

He lived in Yakima for most of his life and served in City Hall for more than 20 years, but what people might remember most about Henry Beauchamp was his kindness.

"He's just one of those people where you can't not like him," said Yakima mayor Micah Cawley.

From humble beginnings, Henry Beauchamp succeeded in all parts of life. He was married to his best friend for 58 years. He was Yakima's first black Mayor.

It's impossible to list all of his accomplishments. One of them was the Southeast Community Center in Yakima. His leadership and fundraising was instrumental to making it a reality in the early 70s.

"I think when you look back on his life, it was always looking to help people improve their quality of life," said former city manager Dick Zais.

Henry also helped open America's largest Opportunity Industrialization Center, or OIC chapter, with a goal of ending poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.

"He wanted to help people come together," Zais said.

Zais describes him as a peacekeeper who helped council find common ground by listening to its citizens.

"I can remember making a presentation to City Council when I was 16 and he was one of the few that listened to me," Cawley said.

State Representative Norm Johnson describes Henry as selfless - a man full of integrity and passion. A man who will be missed and forever loved in the Yakima Valley.

Beauchamp served on the Yakima City Council 1978 to 2002 and was mayor from 1986 to 1988. Henry Beauchamp was 79-years-old.