Earl D. Bean, an influential educator and early African American science professor at Sacramento City College, died Jan. 11 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his family said. He was 80.
Mr. Bean taught biology, anatomy and physiology for 26 years and served as Biology Department chairman at Sacramento City College. He joined the college faculty in 1964 and earned a reputation as a demanding but fair teacher among many students who went on to careers in medicine and science.
As one of the first African American science professors in the Los Rios Community College District, he mentored minority students during the early days of the civil rights movement. He encouraged minorities interested in medical careers and served as adviser to organizers of the Black Students Union at Sacramento City College.
He also reached out to colleagues as a soft-spoken but widely respected administrator. As biology chairman, he helped resolve issues during an early period of rancor in the department, retired professor Jonathan Brosin said. "Earl was someone who got people to work together to solve problems," Brosin said.
The son of a train cook, Mr. Bean was born in 1930 in Middletown, Ohio, and raised by his maternal grandmother after his parents separated. He joined his mother and two sisters in Springfield, Mass., after high school and served as an Army radioman in England during the Korean War.
He married Lillie Stovall in 1952 and earned a bachelor's degree in science from American International College in Massachusetts. He taught high school and special-needs students before moving to California to teach math at Elk Grove High School in 1963.
He continued his education during summers and earned master's degrees in biology and physiology from a college in Greeley, Colo., and at UC Irvine. He retired from Sacramento City College in 1990.
Mr. Bean raised four children and lived with his wife in Sacramento since 1964. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed camping and fishing in the Sierra Nevada. He "laid every plank and did all the wiring" for a secluded vacation cabin he built near Floriston in Nevada County, said his daughter, Delphine Moore.
Although his daughter said Mr. Bean was "devastated" when the cabin was destroyed in the 2001 Martis wildfire, his legacy endures. Recently hospitalized at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in south Sacramento, he was visited by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who were former students.
"Every time they came in the room, they had to be sure they used the correct terms and did things right, or he would correct them," his wife said. "He was lying there sick and had that much influence. I said, 'My goodness!' "