Nikki Beare of Havana, FL, 86, died Monday, November 10 at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital of complications following a fall. The internationally-recognized feminist was born March 3, 1928 in Detroit to Elbert Stanley Brink and Dorothy Welch Brink. She graduated from Cass Technical High in Detroit in 1946. Three weeks later on June 15, 1946, she married the love of her life, Richard A. Beare of Havana, who succeeds her. The newlyweds moved to Traverse City, Michigan, buying a group of fishing and hunting cabins on Spider Lake that were filled nearly year-round. They had one daughter, Sandi Beare Schenker of Havana. Nikki was an accomplished artist at an early age.
Nikki Beare became an activist when she discovered there were limited library services and certainly none out in the woods. She lobbied for and got BookMobile services started, repeating the process when they moved to Miami. When the pair moved to Islamorada, FL, Nikki began writing for the local paper. She discovered a love of journalism and continued reporting for years, including stints at the South Dade Free Press, the Miami News and later a number of years with the Tallahassee Democrat as the Gadsden County writer. She wrote three books published by Hurricane House Press which the Beares owned with environmentalist Marjorie Stoneman Douglas: Pirates, Pineapples & People, Bottle Bonanza and Plants Poisonous to People. Nikki attended the third United Nations World Conference on Women in Nairobi in 1985, and attended the fourth U.N. World Conference on Women with daughter Sandi in Beijing in 1995.
Nikki got her Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY in 1980 through its University Without Walls program, one of the first distance-learning entities in the country. She became one of the first female lobbyists in Florida in the 1960s, spearheading many legislations to broaden opportunities for women and girls; she continued her activism into the 2000s. Nikki fought hard to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed in Florida, lobbied for women’s issues, and represented clients such as the Florida Hospital Association, Florida Bicycle Association, Kodak, and Dow Chemical. When she learned that Dow produced the herbicide Agent Orange that has been found to have disastrous health impacts on Vietnam veterans, she dropped them as a client. She and her husband Richard started gardening organically in the 1940s and continued with their Havana blueberry farm until her death.
Nikki served on the Refuge House board of directors for many years. She helped found, with friend Lillian Johnson, the Havana Learning Center. Nikki was a founding member of the National Organization for Women, National and Florida Women’s Political Caucus and the Veteran Feminists of America. She was also a charter member, with daughter Sandi, of the Gadsden County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force. She was a member of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 13.
Nikki Beare is survived by husband Richard A. Beare, daughter Sandi Beare Schenker and son-in-law Rick Schenker and seven grandchildren: Jennifer Raulins Anderson, Robert Raulins, Andy, James, Beth, Sara and Ricky Schenker; nieces and nephews David, Annie and Sue Beare; Mike and Dorene Brink; Marc Brink, Vicki Brink and Sue Drake.
A celebration of Nikki’s life will be held on Sunday, November 23rd, 2:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 213 First Street NE, with a reception immediately following at Mirror Image Antiques, 303 First Street NW, Havana. 850.539.7422. Condolences may be sent to: Richard Beare and Rick and Sandi Beare Schenker, 303 First Street NW, Havana, FL 32333. In lieu of flowers a memorial fund has been set up at Capital City Bank in the name of Nikki Beare to fund a scholarship for a Havana area student interested in women’s issues.