Leo Claire Beebe was born July 20, 1917, in Williamsburg, Michigan. He obtained his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. Beebe earned a master’s degree in Communications from Glassboro State College in 1985. He died June 30, 2001, in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, at the age of 83.
Beebe had a varied career, including positions as a businessman, philanthropist, educator, and executive. He spent many years with the Ford Motor Company before becoming a Professor of Marketing and, later, the first Dean of the School of Business Administration at Rowan University, where he also founded the Management Institute. Beebe was the Dean of the School of Business Administration until 1985. He then moved on to serve on the Board of Directors at K-Tron, where he served until his retirement in 1998. K-Tron, based in Pitman, New Jersey, produces industrial equipment used in processing for a variety of industries ranging from food to chemicals.
Beebe worked for the Ford Motor Company for 28 years in a variety of positions, including marketing and planning. Henry Ford, II, personally assigned Beebe to close down the Edsel business and later to direct the ultimately successful competitive Ford motor sports program, leading to international racing victories in 1965 and 1966. These wins ended Ferrari’s dominance in the auto endurance racing world.
On three occasions during his tenure at Ford, Beebe took leaves of absence to handle various public service assignments. The first of these was as executive vice chairman of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Committee for Hungarian Refugees. During 1956-1957, while working out of Camp Kilmer in northern New Jersey, Beebe oversaw the relocation and resettlement of 35,000 Hungarian refugees in the United States during the Hungarian Revolution. In 1959-1960, Beebe organized the U.S. Center for Cuban Refugees in Miami, Florida. In 1969, Ford loaned Beebe to head the National Alliance of Businessmen as the request of President Lyndon B. Johnson. His charge was to find 140,000 jobs for the unemployed within six months. With his team of 8,000, Beebe secured almost 200,000 job pledges. The American Academy of Achievement presented Beebe with its Gold Plate Award for service to the nation.