Spotlight on…Kathy Beallo
A caregiver creating a legacy of service and support
Katherine “Kathy” Beallo has dedicated her life to serving and caring for others. She began her career as a flight attendant, and later she became a registered nurse, a career she held for more than three decades.
Kathy met Dr. Robert “Bob” Beallo during his internship in San Francisco over a mutual patient in the ICU. Bob was famous for having a HUGE appetite with his slight build, so it wasn't surprising that, over the course of their courtship, he presented Kathy with a key to the hospital kitchen. Many meals later, the engagement was set in stone as they enjoyed dinner, dutch treat, at a Chinese soup kitchen, and they were married in 1971.
Over the next 37 years, Kathy supported her husband’s career as a nephrologist who specialized in caring for people with kidney disease. Bob became Chief of Nephrology service and also, for six years, served as Chair of the Department of Medicine, at the Summit Campus of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. The couple raised their two sons, Jack and Michael, in Piedmont, California. They were active in their community, including a 30 year membership at the Orinda Country Club, and shared a mutual love of travel, golf, and dogs.
Bob was diagnosed with ALS in 2004 at the ALS Treatment and Research Center at UCSF, several years after he began experiencing symptoms of the disease.
“It was upsetting and saddening to care for and comfort my husband Robert as ALS caused his body to deteriorate,” shared Kathy. “Our two boys and I gave him the support he needed to live life as normal as possible, including making his rounds as a doctor to care for his own patients. Robert maintained an upbeat attitude, including his sense of humor, as his ability to even communicate with us was failing.”
Family and friends admired Bob and Kathy’s strength and positive attitude in coping with his ALS diagnosis. Bob was a student of teachings of the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, and lived by the saying, “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
Even while navigating the challenges of the disease themselves, the Beallo’s were committed to support other families impacted by ALS in many ways. Bob would always say, “As a physician, I learned early in my career to treat all my patients as family,” and he continued that perspective while living with ALS.
Kathy and Robert connected with The ALS Association Golden West Chapter and participated together in many community outreach golf events.
“During Robert's illness my family became quite close to the Golden West Chapter,” said Kathy. “We helped each other-they eased our burden by introducing us to other families who were going through the same challenges as we did. I also developed an appreciation for the breadth and depth of the Association's good works in research and other aspects of fighting this disease.”
Throughout the course of Bob’s battle with ALS, the family faced the disease with a quiet grace and dignity. Bob stayed as active as he could, enjoying friends and family.
Sadly, Bob passed away peacefully at his home on June 27, 2008, surrounded by Kathy, Mike and Jack, after a four year battle with the disease. He was 63 years old.
After the loss of her beloved husband, Kathy’s personal dedication to serve the ALS community remained unwavering. She focused her efforts on supporting the Chapter through the Drive for a Cure Pro Am, held regularly at the Orinda Country Club, through event participation and annual in-kind contributions to the event’s silent auction.
“Recognizing how many families like ours were supported by the Chapter and the enormous expense in finding a cure for ALS, I resolved in my heart that if the opportunity ever arose I would do what I could to reciprocate the generous support my family received and to help put an end to ALS,” Kathy said.
In 2012, the Chapter dedicated the Drive for a Cure to honor the memory of Dr. Beallo and five other members of Orinda Country Club who had battled ALS. At the event, Kathy scored a rare feat for a golf aficionado: a-hole-in-one!
In the years since Bob’s death, Kathy has spent her time with family and friends, traveling, playing golf, attending to her philanthropic pursuits, and participating in weekly mahjong games. She has also remained resolute in her commitment to the Golden West Chapter's mission and the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS.
This year, Kathy Beallo made a decision to honor her husband’s legacy of compassionate care through a major donation in support of the Chapter’s programs. Motivated by a deep commitment to help and serve others, Kathy made a generous and important leadership gift of $1 million dollars. Her investment in our vision–to create a world without ALS–serves as an example to all and is a lasting tribute to the life’s work of care and support that both she and Robert have modeled.
“I realized that I had an opportunity to give back and to lend support to find a cure for ALS, “said Kathy. “It is made on behalf of all those who have suffered directly or as caregivers and for those who may be afflicted in the future. Because ALS is a disease that strikes suddenly and indiscriminately, no one can predict whether they, a friend or family member might be attacked at some point in the future. Finding a cure will prevent the suffering of many people who would otherwise be afflicted.”
“For over 15 years, Kathy Beallo has remained steadfastly committed to our mission and our ALS community,” said Fred Fisher, President and CEO of the Golden West Chapter. “We are immensely grateful for her generous contribution to our Chapter, which will bring us closer to finding effective treatments and cures for this devastating disease.”
“Donations of any amount to the Golden West Chapter will effectively target the areas of critical need in the fight against ALS,” said Kathy. “Hopefully, my family's investment will encourage others who have had an ALS experience like ours, and who have a similar capacity, to come forward with their own leadership gifts.”
In honor of her generous gift and ongoing support of the ALS community, the Golden West Chapter will honor Kathy with the “Essey Philanthropist of the Year” Award at its annual “Champions for Care and a Cure” celebration on Friday, November 15 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. The Essey awards recognize individuals and organizations whose exceptional contributions and efforts have advanced the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS. The awards are named after the Essey family, led by Richard “Dick” Essey, a founding board member of the Golden West Chapter. The Golden West Chapter is forever grateful to Kathy Beallo for her continued support of the ALS community and for creating a legacy of care and support in memory of her beloved husband.