John Denver Beetham, age 43, died early in the morning May 10, 2021, due to complications from an epileptic seizure.
John was an avid birder and naturalist who was well known in the New Jersey birding community for his thorough reporting and keen observational skills in the field. Much of his education took place in Middlesex County schools: St. Paul the Apostle School in Highland Park, St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, and Rutgers University. At Rutgers, he was a history major, a Phi Beta Kappa, active in the Catholic Center, and graduated with highest honors. His Henry Rutgers Scholar essay compared the monastic rules of the Monastic communities at Cluny and the Byzantine Euergatis Monastery near Constantinople. He then went to Catholic University in Washington, DC, to continue to study Byzantine Church History. He sang with the University’s Town and Gown singers. In 2005, while he was living in DC, he began his DC Birding Blog, later Dendroica, which became an invaluable resource for the birding community in its early years online. His illness prevented him from completing his dissertation, and he came home to Highland Park. In the years since, he has continued to participate in the local birding community. He posted reports of his walks to many birding sites including JerseyBirds, eBird and iNaturalist. On the last weekend of his life, his team, the Middlesex Merlins, won the World Series of Birding for their category. He was a member of the Transfiguration of the Lord Parish and for many years sang in the choir. John also served on the Highland Park Historical Commission and sang with the Highland Park Community Chorus and the Hub City Opera.
John is survived by his parents, Donald Beetham and Mary Denver, a brother, Michael Beetham, sisters Sarah Beetham and Belinda Beetham, sister-in-law Erin Meyer Beetham and brother-in-law Charlie Mahoney. He also is survived by three nieces and one nephew. John was a gentle soul and will be greatly missed.
Arrangements are being made by the Jaqui-Kuhn Funeral Home. A funeral mass will be held on Monday, May 17 at 10:00 AM at Transfiguration of the Lord Parish (St. Paul the Apostle Church), Raritan Avenue and S. 6th Avenue, Highland Park, NJ.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations go to the Epilepsy Foundation or New Jersey Audubon.