Lou Beck, 89

Beck-LouisLou Beck, 89, slipped away peacefully with his wife, Marilyn, holding his and surrounded by his family on Friday, February 3, 2017.

A celebration of Lou’s life will be held at 4:00 pm, Sunday, February 19 at the Elk’s Lodge, 515 E. 99th Street, Kansas City, Missouri. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Don Bosco Senior Center.

Lou is survived by his wife and his children, Stephen (Michelle), Kevin T, Louanne (Brian) Cummings, and Mary Clare (Waldemar) Janke, nine grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, his sister, Loretta Thompson and his brothers, John Heiling and Bernie Beck.

Lou had his first job at age 5, along with his brothers, cleaning out furnaces. (They lowered him inside to get the clinkers). At age 8, he had a newspaper route with his brother James for three years. His various jobs in his early years were also working for Bill McCoy, a barber, delivering for C.C. Border Drugstore, and later inside at the counter. At age 15, he was a telegram deliverer for Western Union, and at age 16 worked at the Forum Cafeteria. After a bout with polio, from which he recovered through prayer, he was employed at Montgomery Ward, Katz Drugstore, Sonken Galamba Steel Company, Prudential insurance, and the Jones Store company. But the work he was most proud of, because it was humanitarian in nature, began when he worked for the “New People” a diocean newspaper, in 1964. This paper became very controversial because they printed articles on the marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations for human rights and supported the civil rights movement. The paper received an award from the National Catholic Press for their coverage of the civil rights subject matter, but the paper was soon thereafter discontinued. Lou continued helping people when he worked at a Jobs Program with Catholic Charities for 2 years from 1966 to 1968. This job became a passion, and he helped people far beyond what the job called for. He helped people, mostly in the inner city, living in public housing, to get and keep jobs. He had to help people get to work, finding them reliable ways to get there, helping them get childcare, or overcoming whatever problems they may have had so they could keep their jobs. His life was in danger many times in the various places he had to go, but he loved these people and served them with his heart. He did things for them on his own like taking fuel for the furnace, Christmas gifts, helping them get free clothes, assisting in the purchasing of a cars, and doing their tax returns. When the jobs program ended, he was promoted and became the Director of Housing and Rehabilitation, where he was responsible for hiring and supervising rehab crews. He was then promoted to his next task which was to develop the the newly established Home Health Program which Catholic Charities had not been able to get off the ground. He saved it and became Director of the Program for 8 years, during which time it became very successful and was the second largest agency in the Kansas City area. In 1975, he left Catholic Charities in Missouri to work for the Kansas City, KS diocese, and starting from scratch, wrote the policy and procedures manual for home health services and developed a very successful program which served and helped many people, which he directed till 1986. In 1987, he was hired as the Director of the Home Delivered Meals program at the Don Bosco Senior Center, and retired in September of 1993. He worked from 1995 to 2002 for Co-Star as a field researcher, surveying some seven thousand buildings in the greater five county area of Kansas City. He knew the city well, having lived here all his life, and enjoyed this job.

Lou was a member of the Men of Unity, working tirelessly to deliver the Daily Word to various sites on a regular basis for nine years. One man told him he had saved him from committing suicide, and others would greet him cheerfully because they knew Lou Beck cared for them.

He enjoyed many years of visiting his cabin at the Lake of the Ozarks with his family and many visits to the east coast to visit his brother and sister. After retirement, he loved being with Marilyn just doing things around the house and yard, feeding the birds, reading the Star, playing electronic poker, cousins luncheons, walking by the river, and giving his dog, Sweetie, massages. He liked watching the Royals and received the Buck O’Neil award in 2009, getting the chance to attend a game in the special seats with family.

He liked to laugh and make people laugh, he liked hugs, and he liked making people feel special. Though he was not a man of great means, he would always tip the baggers at the grocery store.

Praying was important to Lou and he had a special room in the basement for this purpose. God was always important to him, and in the early 70’s, he and Marilyn were one of the founding couples of Community One, an experimental faith group that met in rented buildings. The group consisted of people from the Catholic churches in the Kansas City area.

He always liked his cousin’s comment that he wanted to be buried with a fork in his hand, representative of the belief that “the best is yet to come”. He clung to the hope in God’s promise, that God has a wonderful place ready for those who love Him, and Lou Beck surely did.