THADDEUS EDMUND BECK JR.

1930-2021

With sadness, we announce the passing of a great husband, father, friend and teacher. A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Princeton (’52), Virginia Theological Seminary and Columbia University, he most enjoyed being himself living and teaching in Nebraska and during decades of very active retirement in Rockbridge County.

He was preceded by his son Tad, and survived by his wife Ann Manny Beck, his sons Ralph, Avent, and Nathaniel, and his grandchildren Nathan, Catherine, Daniel, Michael and Madeline.

While often recognized by his interest in others, his puns and silly stories, he was truly known for his selflessness towards others. Whether as a minister, a professor, a consultant in the world of medical research, or later as a private philanthropist, he lived by the principle that giving is about whom you help, how you help, and not about yourself. He believed we can quietly celebrate our accomplishments, and yet know we can always do better, do more, and learn more.

So, we can take some time to celebrate him, from his powerful days helping lead Princeton lacrosse to national rankings, to facing integration in his ministerial duties, to helping so many students become Marshall and similarly awarded academics, to helping found the cross-disciplinary Centennial College at the University of Nebraska, to his various boards and related activities, including with the Frontier Culture Museum and CHIP of Roanoke. His longest and deepest commitment, shared with his wife, was to the creation and support of the Great Plains Art Institute at Sinté Gleska University on the Rosebud Reservation. Never one to hand out, but to help others find their own way to push forward, he will be missed. Being free and fun while younger, from working on a ranch in Montana, where he met his future wife at a square dance, to knocking out the enforcer from an opposing lacrosse team with a clean check, he absorbed the discipline he needed to move forward, as an athlete and scholar, as an administrator and consultant, and as father and husband even when those roles meant a simultaneity of stoicism and compassion.

Spirituality was always a private affair, from the formal priesthood, to sweat lodges on Rosebud, to the value of physical labor, and a life-long study of faith and philosophy. Not one to debate, but one with whom conversation could become a powerful exploration. He loved introducing others to his interests, from a new book on history or science that he liked, to gardening in a landscape filled with deer and rabbits, to local fly fishing streams, to his abiding contemplation over who and what we are. A strong friend to all, we thank him for all he has given.

Memorial services will be held when COVID restrictions allow. In the meantime, in lieu of flowers, gifts in his name can be directed to the Hospice of the Piedmont, Charlottesville, or to any local hospice organization. N-G

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