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Willie Bean mourned

OW Staff | 1/16/2009, 5 p.m.

William "Willie" Bean portrayed the opposite of his chosen profession, the sport of boxing where one needs to be a fierce and forceful fighter. The pugilist who fought in the Olympic Grand Auditorium, the Hollywood Legion and Ocean Park arenas, passed away on Dec. 19, 2007, at the age of 80, a truly long life for a heavyweight fighter.

Born on March 20, 1927, in Houston, Tx, Willie was the third child of Ned and Ella Bean. Willie became one of the very first black Marines and in due course served in the Pacific Theatre in World War II. It was during this time that he discovered both his love and talent for boxing. After an honorable discharge in 1945, Bean settled in Los Angeles and began a 10 year boxing career that included two Pacific Coast Heavyweight Championships (1953, 1954), and fights with such famous opponents as Archie Moore, Jimmy Bivens, Turkey Thompson, Pat Comiskey, and in 1954, an exhibition bout with Joe Louis.

In 1963, Willie co-founded the Golden State Boxers Association (GSBA), in which he served as President and Sergeant at Arms. He remained a committed member throughout 2007, and earlier last year in March, celebrated his 80th birthday with the members of GSBA, close friends, and family.

Willie worked in construction for over 20 years, and participated in numerous community organizations including, the Knights of Peter Claver, Lyons Club, Lords of Inglewood, Voices of CARE Choir, and Jackie Robinson Post 252.

After the death of his wife Helene Kathryn Armstrong in 1995, Willie went to Washington, D. C., at the age of 68 and participated in the Million Man March. A few years later he met and married Lynette Bonitto and together they shared their love of travel.

Standing over 6 ft. 3 inches, Willie Bean had a physical presence that commanded respect and admiration. He was good natured, God fearing man with a personality that exuded kindness. He was devoted to his Christian faith and church, St. Brigid where he served as an usher and greeter for many years.

Willie leaves to mourn his passing, his wife Lynette, daughter, La Terye Ceola, granddaughter L'Arelia Kathryn, sister Myrtle Morgan, numerous relatives, friends, and fellow boxers.