LeBart Eugene Beck – 1910 to 2002

Bart Beck passed away at the age of 91 years in Los Gatos, California on February 3, 2002, after a brief illness. Only 14 months earlier, he was preceded in death by his beloved wife of almost 68 years, Louise H. (Shively) Beck. Also preceding him in death was his youngest son, Scott Barton Beck, who passed in 1998 after a long and heroic battle with cancer.

He is survived by his two sons, Todd Eugene Beck of Bangor, Michigan, and James Louis Beck of Los Gatos, California; in addition to six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Bart was born October 20, 1910 on an eighty acre farm in Porter Township, Van Buren County, Michigan. He moved to Three Rivers with his family in the spring of 1920. His first job was selling Sunday papers door-to-door in Three Rivers in 1921, and as a teenager he worked as grounds keeper in the Riverside Cemetery for 40 cents an hour. At 18 years old, his job was driving a team of horses on a road building crew.

In the early winter of 1928-29, he became a cutter on a Peerless Blueprint Machine at the Dodge Brothers plant (before Chrysler bought the company) in Hamtramic, Michigan. Later he worked in the Motor Car Division of Fairbanks Morse in Three Rivers, where his dad (Clark Beck) had worked, in the early 1920’s.

He first met Louise Shively at the Riverside Grange Hall, in the early winter of 1930 and they were married on Saturday June 17, 1933, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. During the 1930’s and all through the depression Bart harvested crops, split firewood, hauled manure and anything else he needed to do to provide for himself and his new bride. In the summer of 1937 the Keikheifer Container Company, which owned the Eddy Paper Company in Three Rivers, sent him to Plymouth North Carolina as a Steam Turbine Operator for ninety cents an hour.

In June of 1942 Bart accepted a job with Mutual Boiler Insurance Company in Cincinnati as an Inspection Engineer. He inspected such things as boilers, steam and diesel engines, turbines, generators, and every other type of equipment found in industry.

Returning to Three Rivers in 1947, he worked for the Rocky River Paper Company; then managed the Service Department at the Montgomery Ward Store and finally joined Clifton Engineering Company, where he prospered for almost thirty years.

Around 1970, he and Louise started spending winters in Florida, even though he was still employed by Clifton’s. When the owner of the business passed away Bart, in partnership with Ed Remington, put together a management team, raised $150,000 to buy the company and Bart became the Vice President. He managed many major construction projects, but the most challenging was the building of Cape Canaveral (now Cape Kennedy) in the 1950’s, where he was responsible for the entire electrical infrastructure for the missile base.

In the late 1940’s Bart (almost single handedly) built a house on the south end of Fisher Lake where he and Louise raised their family. They lived in their Fisher Lake home until the fall of 1976. During their retirement years they bought a home on Constantine Road, one in Orange City, Florida and another in Three Rivers; then a membership in the John Knox Village retirement complex in Florida. In 1997 circumstances changed again and they moved to California to be closer to that part of the family.

Bart and Louise traveled extensively during their retirement years. They saw much of Europe and Canada, most of the USA including Hawaii and several of the Caribbean islands. At the age of 75, having developed considerable computer skills earlier in his life, Bart began a 15-year project to write his memoirs. With the help of his middle son, his life journal of over 150 short stories has been published on the Internet at his own web site, www.bartbeck.com. For anyone who knew the Becks, a visit to this site may provide some interesting and amusing stories of life in Three Rivers, around the country and around the world with Bart and Louise.

Bart was a proud and honest man. He was strong but gentle. He was intelligent and wise but quiet and humble. He invented things, built things, and fixed things that were broken. He hunted, fished, knitted, crocheted, painted landscapes, told stories, made jewelry, wrote computer programs and made more friends than can be counted. He met a man that knew the Wright brothers and he helped build the missile base from which men flew to the moon. More importantly he loved. He loved his sons and their children and their children’s children. Most of all he loved Louise. When she died he tried to go on, but after fourteen months he just couldn’t do it without her.

Bart’s two surviving sons can be reached at jim@patchencalifornia.com and Bartson1@gmail.com