Gastonia, NC - A Gastonia family said their final goodbye to a loved one fondly known by many in the community as “The Mule Man”.
“He just loved having them, they were pets to him,” said Susan Beaty Teague.
Harvey Lee Beaty’s love of mules began when he was a kid helping his father on the family farm.
“They used the mules to plow a lot,” said Teague.
Over the years, Beaty started raising his own and riding them around Gaston County, which is how he got his nickname.
“He loved showing them off,” said Teague. “I loved them too, loved touching their soft noses and hearing the claps as they walked around,” said granddaughter Caitlin Teague.
You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing Beaty and his buggy.
“”[He’d go] to the drug store, to the grocery store. Everywhere you see him with his mules,” said Patricia Martin, Gaston Resident.
They became somewhat of an icon, appearing at weddings, birthday parties, even being part of a live nativity scene during Christmas.
James Martin, Gaston Resident
“He’d take little kids and ride them and he didn’t charge nobody,” said James Martin. “ He was just a good man.”
Beaty was also a Marine veteran. He passed away at 83 years old Wednesday. His dying wish? It’s no surprise - to have his mules pull him for one final ride.
“That’s exactly what he wanted,” said Teague. “He wanted to be buried in his overalls, which he was. And that’s the way he wanted to go and that was happy with me.”
“He’d give me a tough time about being in the Army,” said long-time friend, Dil Ward, known to most as “Cowboy.” He had the honors of riding the buggy carrying Beaty’s casket.
He and some of Beaty’s other closest friends will be inheriting s six of the mule man’s prized possessions.
“Right now I’m not going to be able to ride for a while but I’m going to go back to riding,” said Ward. “It’s going to take some getting used to not riding with him.”
If there’s one thing, his family says will take some time getting used to being without: “Probably his laugh,” said Teague. “And telling his stories,” said Caitlin.