Obituary: Beatrice Mae Beck

Mother, longtime Garden librarian, genealogy enthusiast

Longtime Claremont resident Beatrice Mae Beck (nee Ande) died May 27, 2017.

She was a second generation Californian, born to Robert H. Ande and Anita S. (nee Anderson) Ande Swan in Pasadena on September 1, 1934. As a child, she witnessed firsthand the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Her father was a civilian radio operator for the military and her family was living at Hickam Field in Hawaii. This dramatic experience left a mark that lasted a lifetime, her family shared. During World War II, she was brought to California for safety and was subsequently raised in Pasadena by her grandparents, Allan and Mae Ande. Ms. Beck’s final resting place will be with them.

She was a 1955 graduate of Whittier College, going on to earn her master’s degree in library science from USC in 1956, a year that also saw her marriage to Myron B. Beck. She also did post-graduate doctoral coursework at the Claremont Graduate School. Ms. Beck held a teaching certificate and was a fellow of the California Parents and Teachers Association. Although she always held a full time job, Ms. Beck was also a doting mother to her three children, Mark, Cynthia and Laura, and a loving wife, all at quite a young age.

A proud American, Ms. Beck was a direct descendent of the Reverend Doctor John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. She also descended from at least 26 other patriots who fought in the Revolutionary War. Additionally, she had a Mayflower ancestor, Governor William Bradford, and numerous others who were active in the founding and growth of the United States.

She belonged to many genealogical societies including Descendants of St. Margaret of Scotland, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and several others. She found a passion for “chasing ancestors” and inspired this in many others through teaching and advising, her family shared.

Prior to her retirement and subsequent illness, Ms. Beck was a full-time librarian at Claremont’s Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden for more than 30 years. Additionally, she taught genealogical courses at Claremont Adult Education Center where she mentored and befriended a great many students. She was also a lecturer for various genealogical organizations for many years.

She enjoyed traveling, both for work and pleasure, and the many meetings at botanic gardens and libraries associated with her journeys throughout the US and Canada. Through these meetings she made lifelong friends, including the late Joan DeFato. Ms. Beck was able to visit friends and relatives on several trips to Scotland, the rest of the United Kingdom and other European destinations.

She leaves behind many family members in the US and Europe, and countless friends made over her long, full life. Ms. Beck’s hobbies and avocations included reading and collecting books, a love of history, genealogy, opera, gardening, knitting, cooking, quilting, traveling and her numerous pets. She is greatly missed, her family shared, adding that they would like to express their gratitude to her good friend John Dolan for being with her during her final hours.

Ms. Beck is survived by three children, Mark, Cynthia and Laura; five grandchildren; and her beloved great-grandchildren. Her husband Myron B. Beck preceded her in death in 1988.

A memorial is set for July 19 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Citrus Room at Hillcrest Retirement Community, 2705 Mountain View Dr., La Verne. All are welcome. It will be a time to share memories of an exceptional, intelligent, interesting and caring woman, Ms. Beck’s family shared.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Ms. Beck’s honor to PBS, your local library, a favorite genealogical society, humane society or animal rescue center.


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