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James McEntire Beck

Obituary Condolences

Family-Placed Death Notice

BECK, James McEntire James McEntire Beck, age 94, of Valdosta, Georgia, died on May 7, 2011. He was born in Eton, Georgia, on May 5, 1917, to Eugene Henry Beck and Edmonia Hopson Beck. He moved to Valdosta in 1922 when his father became Superintendent of the Lowndes County Schools and his mother was the dietician at Georgia State Women's College, now Valdosta State University. Mr. Beck enlisted in the army in early 1941, attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry in 1942. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 362nd Infantry Regiment of the 91st Division and saw 18 months of combat in North Africa and Italy, including the campaigns of Rome-Arno, Po Valley and the Appenines. He rose to the rank of Major and was awarded the Bronze Star for Heroic Achievement and the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action. Upon release from the service, Mr. Beck returned to Valdosta where he married Betty Mathis, the daughter of the late J. E. (Ed) Mathis and Ethel Johnson Mathis. He worked for a few years in the produce business with his older brother Henry before becoming manager of the Ashley Oaks Motel and Restaurant, which he successfully operated for 25 years. Mr. Beck served on the Board of Directors of First Federal Savings & Loan in Valdosta from 1958 - 2001, serving as its Chairman beginning in 1993. He also served for 20 years on the Advisory Board of Citizens & Southern National Bank (now Bank of America) in Valdosta. Mr. Beck was active in the Valdosta Chamber of Commerce, the Lowndes County Planning Commission, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Hospital Authority, the South Georgia Medical Center Foundation, the Valdosta Kiwanis Club, American Legion, Elks, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. A dedicated public servant, Mr. Beck served Valdosta three terms as Mayor (1966-70 and 1972-74) and then represented Valdosta and Hahira for 16 years in the Georgia House of Representatives. As a Representative, Mr. Beck served on the House Appropriations, the University System of Georgia and Banks and Banking Committees. In 1984, the Georgia House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Mr. Beck and his father, Eugene Henry Beck, for being the only father and son to have served in the Georgia Legislature one hundred years apart. E. H. Beck served as a Representative from Lumpkin County from 1882 through 1883, Brooks County from 1911 through 1912, Murray County from 1915 through 1916 and the extra session in 1917; and as a Senator representing Gordon, Murray and Whitfield Counties from 1917 through 1918. Survivors are his wife of 64 years, Betty Mathis Beck of Valdosta; daughters and sons-in-law, Betty Gene and Gary Birdwell of Marietta; Jenny and Riley Howard of Valdosta; and Mary Jane and Al Rakel of Tucker; grandchildren Christina (David) Nimri of Franklin, Tennessee, and James (Melanie) Upchurch of Kirkland, Washington. Several nieces and nephews also survive him. Services will be held on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. at First United Methodist Church in Valdosta. Dr. Bob Moon and the Reverend John McGowan will officiate. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the First United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 109 W. Valley Street, Valdosta, GA 31601; YMCA's Youth & Teen Center Fund, 2424 Gornto Rd., Valdosta, GA 31602; or Hospice of South Georgia, 2263 Pineview Dr., Valdosta, GA 31602. The family will receive friends at Carson McLane Funeral Home on Monday evening from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Carson McLane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 9, 2011
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