The Beach & Arthur Update: William Hamilton Arthur Descendants Decry Events Surrounding Lois Arthur’s Untimely Death.

William Hamilton Arthur’s maternal granddaughter, Sherri O’Donnell (Joanne “Joanie” Arthur’s daughter) and paternal grandson Bruce Arthur (William Hamilton Arthur Jr.’s son) came forward to denounce the rumors and innuendoes that have perpetually swirled around Lois Arthur’s death including the chain of events leading up to that tragic day as well as quelling the lingering questions behind the demise of the Beach & Arthur Company.


Beach & Arthur Company


Born in 1898, Lois Arthur came from a modest working-class family. Her transition into the upper echelons opulent lifestyle, which she reveled in after marrying William Hamilton Arthur, was an effortless passage. The couple lived in grand estates, embarked on lavish trips and even owned an airplane. They attended extravagant soirées and hobnobbed with the likes of Eddie Rickenbacker.

As the Great Depression loomed and WWII impended, the Beach & Arthur Co. began battening down the hatches. All the while, unbeknownst to Lois, William had kept a mistress. She had never for a moment questioned the propriety of William’s conduct nor ever heard of, suspected, or even conceived possible, anything at all to the contrary. It was Joanie who surmised her father was having an affair, undoubtedly a not so discrete tryst.


Lois Arthur

Framed photograph of Sherri Odonnell’s grandmother, Lois Arthur, taken between 1918-1919 in Indianapolis, IN, aged 19-20. An influenza epidemic struck Indianapolis during the span 1918-1919, along with the rest of the country. A nurse shortage ensued and was of particular concern. Schools recruited young woman of high scholastic ability and good character who would make first-class nurses. Lois was enlisted. Lois often wrote to her mother about the flu patients she was caring for.


Lois’ realization of Arthur’s infidelity and betrayal was the catalyst for the impending tragedy that was to unfold. Fearful of losing her husband, wealth and social standing, combined with dreary economic and political realities, a distraught Lois fatally shot herself. Her body was found by her husband, William, and two house servants after Arthur heard a shot and found the door of her bathroom locked. Arthur, Thomas Scals, a caretaker, and his wife Barthelia broke down the door. The body was found slumped over the bathtub. Lois’ death was officially ruled a suicide.


William Hamilton Arthur

Photo of William Hamilton Arthur, age 50. Arthur was in hi50s.


Arthur dissolved his business relationship with Beach not out of grief over his wife’s death but rather, according to letters from Lois to her mother, angst of the period and disdain of one another. The Beach & Arthur Co. had been in peril many years prior to Lois’s suicide. In 1941 Richard Beach and William Arthur parted ways ceasing business operations in Indianapolis.

After the suicide William Hamilton Arthur moved to Ohio, Joanie to Chicago and son William Hamilton Arthur Jr. to Florida. Arthur ultimately married his mistress, Val. Joanie never forgave her father for her mother’s suicide and they became estranged for 15 years. It wasn’t until she had her daughter, Sherri, in 1947 that they finally reunited in 1953. William went on to do side work for Disney while working for a paper manufacturing company. Arthur died in 1960. His wife, Val, moved to Florida.

We thank the Arthur Family for contributing additional personal details of their family history. The intimate accounting was difficult to relive. We are honored they entrusted us with this sensitive excerpt.