The community of Freeport is grieving the loss of a true local figure, Jerome M. Beaumet, known as Jerry Beau or around town as Jerry the painter. Beaumet died Sept. 3 at the age of 86, leaving behind a legacy that has touched countless hearts of countless individuals in the area.
“Jerry found his way into everyone’s hearts through his joyful play and gleeful enjoyment of children both young and old,” said Dianne Clark, Beaumet’s friend. “He touched many lives and leaves behind many dear friends. Jerry always had a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes, those beautiful blues.”
Born April 18, 1937, in Washington, Beaumet’s journey through life led him on an adventurous path. He grew up in Virginia before making his way to the bustling streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan in the ‘60s and ‘70s. However, it was in the ‘80s that he discovered his true calling and fell in love with Long Beach on Long Island, where he spent joyful hours body surfing in the waves. Long Beach became synonymous with Beaumet, as he epitomized the spirit of the beach and its community.
Beaumet was not just a beach enthusiast; he was a gifted painter with a particular talent for restoring and enhancing the ornate Victorian-style homes that adorn Freeport’s landscape. Many of the colorful and beautifully restored houses in the Bayview and Archer Street area are testaments to his artistry. When he painted a house, it wasn’t just about transforming the structure; it was about building lasting connections.
“He painted many of the Victorian houses in Freeport, if you go down on like Bayview and Archer Street, and in that area, you see anything that has a fancy paint out, that was him,” Clark said. “He was painting up to 84.”
His passion for painting extended beyond homes, encompassing landscapes, nautical scenes, birds, and his personal favorite, lighthouses.
A remarkable aspect of Beaumet’s character was his love for people, especially children. He had a playful and generous spirit that endeared him to everyone he encountered. He often surprised children with gifts and treats, creating cherished memories for families throughout Freeport.
Beaumet’s nature knew no bounds, and he had a knack for bringing joy to special occasions. On birthdays, he would climb onto rooftops, waiting for the celebrant to come out, and then shower them with a cascade of one-dollar bills. His commitment to spreading happiness was infectious, and his genuine, larger-than-life personality left an indelible mark on the community.
Beaumet was not just a painter; he was a Freeport icon, a beloved figure that embodied the spirit of the town. His friendships were forged through the strokes of his paintbrush, and his impact on Freeport extended far beyond his artistic talents.
To honor his memory and celebrate his life, a memorial will take place Sunday, Oct. 1, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Sparkle on Stage, 195 Woodcleft Ave. In a touching tribute to the late Beaumet, the cultural art center is preparing to host a memorial exhibit featuring Jerry’s artwork allowing the community to appreciate the depth of his artistic expression.
Sparkle on Stage Director, Robyn Workman recognizes the significance of Beaumet’s contributions to the community. She explained that the decision to host a memorial exhibit at Sparkle on Stage is unusual for their cultural art center, but it felt particularly fitting for Beaumet, given his deep ties to the area.
The exhibit will celebrate Beaumet’s artistic legacy and serve a philanthropic purpose. Workman said the proceeds from the sale of Jerry’s artwork during the exhibit will support Sparkle on Stage. Additionally, there are plans to establish a scholarship fund in Beaumet’s name to benefit students interested in participating in the center’s programs. The scholarship fund will offer opportunities for local children to engage in the center’s diverse programs, starting in the coming weeks.
Beaumet’s legacy will live on in the hearts of the Freeport community, a reminder to enjoy life.
“I found a picture he left for somebody; he didn’t always write on the back of pictures,” Clark said. “He wrote on the back of this picture, ‘Have a happy life’.’ And that’s the legacy I think he leaves behind.”