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Biography: Arthur Beck

Arthur Beck

Arthur Beck was born May 3, 1952 to parents, Patrick and Connie, while his father was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. His father was a career military Army Sergeant and, like most career Army families, the Becks were transferred often so that Arthur attended seven schools in thirteen years of schooling.

He was not a friendly outgoing child and did not easily form friendships during his school years. Moving frequently did not help his sociability. He was a disciplined student and a person comfortable following and upholding rules. He gave his studies priority, on demand of his father, but was never much more than an average student. He liked football, but more as an observer than a participant.

Arthur felt it was his patriotic duty to do what he could to help his country in Vietnam, so a few weeks after he graduated from high school, he followed in his father's footsteps and enlisted in the Army. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and spent a total of eight years in the service. By then he'd had enough of Army life and living away from the United States, so he returned to live and work in Chicago, Illinois.

He picked a large city with the idea that jobs would be more plentiful there. He looked into several opportunities in local, state and federal government, and finally decided on the US Postal Service. He found the job suited his military background, his singleness of purpose, and sticking to prescribed procedure. His work mates were not as taken with his talents since his single-mindedness did not always work in their favor.

There was a library near Arthur's office, which he frequented on his lunch hour. He had discovered the joy of reading while in the service and found he also enjoyed doing research on subjects he found interesting. This fit his rather solitary lifestyle. The librarian was a lovely young woman named Frances Groves whose smiling face and friendly air mesmerized Arthur.

He'd never before met a young woman who so completely entranced him. He found excuses to talk to her, and one day summoned the courage to ask her to go to dinner with him. He was surprised that she accepted. They began a long, slow courtship. They found they were very different, but somehow strangely compatible. She was everything he was not and had the effect of making him more human. She liked his serious nature.

They married a year after meeting and were a devoted couple for their nearly thirty years together. Their marriage was a solid one, but to Frances's disappointment they never had children. Arthur had his Frannie so he didn't care, but Frances always felt they had missed something.

Although Arthur was not a very sociable person, he would accompany Frances to church, joined her on a bowling team and didn't mind her keeping up with the book clubs she loved so much. His interest in football continued, but he enjoyed listening on the radio or watching on TV rather than enduring the crowds and noise at a game. As the world moved into the Digital Age, Frances became familiar with computers at work and convinced Arthur they should get a one at home. Frances and Arthur both found they enjoyed researching various subjects on their home computer and the Internet.

Arthur stayed in the US Postal Service and worked his way up until he was manager of a branch office in the suburbs of Chicago, where he remained until his retirement in 2007. His people skills were not the best, but he was an efficient manager and got along well with people who followed the rules of procedure and worked diligently.

Because they were not blessed with children, Frances kept working until 2000 when there was a change in the management of the library. She decided then it was a good time to retire, stay at home, and devote more time to her garden.

Frances had become interested in gardening since her retirement and wanted to move to a warmer climate where she could spend more time outdoors. After living in a metropolitan area all of their married life, she yearned for smaller community so spent many hours on the computer researching retirement possibilities. She and Arthur would spend his vacations traveling to places she discovered, and after a visit to Oxford, decided that was where they would spend their retirement. They found a house with a nice-sized yard that the two of them could manage, and bought it. Frances loved their little house and yard, and both of them spent many happy hours working to beautify their space.

Frances enjoyed young people so became friends with their neighbor, Kimberly Pace, but Arthur believed in "live and let live" where neighbors were concerned. Kimberly's dog, Emerson, would get loose and into the Becks' yard, but Frances always managed to coax him back where he belonged before he could do any damage to her garden.

In 2009 Frances began to lose weight – a lot of weight and rapidly. Arthur took her to the doctor, and Frannie endured many tests. The doctors diagnosed her problem as pancreatic cancer. The prognosis was terminal. Arthur was devastated, but held himself together for his wife's sake. Frannie was resolute and brave. Arthur dropped everything to care for her. As she became weaker, he did all the cooking, housekeeping, laundry and caring for Frannie.

Their beloved garden had to be sacrificed, although he did what he could because he knew the garden gave Frannie so much satisfaction. He kept up two special rosebushes that Frannie was crazy about so that he could pick the flowers for her to have every day during their blooming season. One called Seashell she had once said smelled so good, that it made her feel like a "young Southern Belle." Frances died in June 2010. Arthur was obviously distraught and put his energy into restoring the garden to the way Frances had wanted it.

The pastor at the church where Frances had been a member, and which held her memorial service, offered Arthur grief counseling since he was worried about him. Arthur refused, stating he didn't need anybody or anything. He didn't tell anyone he hadn't been able to part with Frances's clothing, and her closet was just as she left it. He became more and more of a recluse and increasingly less tolerant of people and things that annoyed him. He became obsessive about the garden, giving special attention to the Seashell rose and the Iceberg rose bush in the front yard, often working into the night exhausting himself so he could sleep.

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