Marnie Lahtinen
(Submitted photo)

Beattie has played the part of Drosselmeyer in the Northern Plains Dance production of The Nutcracker since 1998. (Submitted photo)

Beattie's love of cycling has led him to serve as the commissioner for cycling events in Bismarck for 24 years. (Submitted photo)

Time is precious and, let's face it, scarce. Days -- okay, years -- pass us by while we are busy attending to family, careers and our daily list of to-dos. These demands on our time may make us less inclined to spend the few extra moments we do have on others, let alone complete strangers. But one Bismarck man feels inclined to give back to a community he believes has given so much to him.

Meet Brian Beattie, a man with an astonishing array of hobbies who looks for opportunities to share his time and talents with others. From coaching gymnastics to Little League, from ski patrol to the Park Board, Beattie regularly and generously devotes his time. Oh, and he's also an optometrist in a busy practice he co-owns with his partners.

This altruist became involved in volunteering as a young man, when he took over his former Boy Scout troop after graduating from optometry school. Then, as the saying goes, one thing led to another. His love for bicycling got him involved in the Prairie Rose state games, where he was the commissioner for cycling events in Bismarck for 24 years. As a certified coach with the USA Cycling Federation, Beattie also officiated local, sanctioned cycling races like the Dakota Classic.

A stint coaching preschoolers in gymnastics (after his wife signed them up for adult gymnastics classes) led to an eight-year position as the president for the Bismarck Gymnastics Academy. This, in turn, led him to Bismarck Parks and Recreation. Beattie's been on that board for eight years.

"As a huge supporter and promoter of Bismarck, it's really a nice thing for me to get to [serve on the Park Board]," says Beattie. "Parks and Recreation is the soul of the community because people always want to know what there is to do."

If anyone is wondering what there is to do in this town, they should ask Brian Beattie. Seriously. He was and is behind the scenes of so many organizations, it's mind-boggling. Secretary/Treasurer at the North Dakota Optometric Association. Senior Patrol with the National Ski Patrol. Otter Creek 55 at Harmon Lake Bike Race Committee. Soccer and Little League coach. President of the Optometric Foundation of North Dakota, a charitable organization promoting eye health and eye care. State Board of Optometry. Future Leaders in Healthcare Executive Operations Committee.

But Beattie's contributions are not always behind the scenes. If you have been to a Northern Plains Dance production of The Nutcracker, you may recognize Beattie from his role as Drosselmeyer. He was in the first Nutcracker in 1998, and has been in every production since. Every. Single. Production.

"Brian has been an incredible asset to Northern Plains Dance (NPD) over the years," says Hollis Mackintosh Heid, executive director of the dance company. "There has not been a single performance that I have directed for NPD that he hasn't contributed time and effort to. He has built countless sets and props for us over the years and has remained a dedicated performer and avid supporter... I can't imagine doing this without him."

And here's the thing: Beattie has no formal dance training. He became involved at Northern Plains Dance because his two young children danced there and, quite frankly, because the school needed male dancers for the performance. Not surprisingly, Beattie stepped up.

"At one point, I was the principal male dancer!" laughs Beattie. "I was coordinated enough to do it, and the director at the time knew how to use my past experience in athletics to make it all work."

The experience that Beattie credits most for his ability to participate in the Nutcracker experience? A traveling water ski show in college. The group participated in shows in North Dakota and Wisconsin, where they did pairing, jumping and barefooting. "At one time I was the middle of the three tier pyramid," explains Brian. "All that lifting prepared me for the Nutcracker."

It also seems to have prepared him to lift the causes and organizations he supports to this day. When asked why he gives so much of his personal time, Beattie says simply: "I love Bismarck/Mandan, and I want to give back."

Marnie Lahtinen is the mother of five children and a Mandan-based freelance writer. In addition to her family, she loves travel, hiking, skiing, food, knitting, red wine and music.