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Elma Catharine Beck

1923 - 2010 Obituary Condolences
Elma Catharine Beck Obituary
September 15, 1923 - October 18, 2010

Elma Beck passed away peacefully at her home in San Pedro, California on October 18, 2010 after a courageous battle with cancer, surrounded by family and friends when she passed. Born Elma Catharine Keller on September 15, 1923 in Nanaimo, Canada, Elma attended elementary and high school in Canada. In 1945, she graduated with a degree in nursing from St. Paul School of Nursing and moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue her career. She met George Beck while attending pre-med classes at U.S.C., they were married on September 3, 1949, and they loved and supported each other over the next 61 years. George and Elma welcomed a son, Charlie in 1953 and a daughter, Megan in 1955. Elma decided her young family required a career change and in 1966 she received her bachelor's degree and teaching credential from Long Beach State University and she taught 5th grade for nineteen years at Ramona Elementary School in Bellflower, California. Years later, as adults, many of her former 5th graders contacted her to thank her for inspiring them when they were young. After their retirements, George and Elma traveled to destinations around the world enjoying, among other adventures, bike riding in China, Holland and England, hiking the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska, cruising in the Galapagos and painting (Elma) and golfing (George) in Ireland. Elma was a shining example of how to live life to the fullest. She took up downhill skiing at the age of 50 and could negotiate her way down all the runs at Mammoth Mountain. She began running at the age of 53 and went on to complete 10 Catalina Marathons. When she turned 70, Elma read an article on the importance of maintaining muscle as one ages and signed up the next day at a gym and religiously worked out with weights 4 times a week. Elma began to enter powerlifting competitions and, despite her slender frame, became a national champion in her age group. Elma still holds the American records in her weight class for bench press, squat and deadlift for ages 70-74. Elma was also an accomplished artist, whose paintings were on display in several South Bay area galleries and restaurants, most prominently at the Palos Verdes Art Center. She enjoyed painting landscapes and scenes of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and San Pedro Harbor but what Elma loved the most was painting her grandchildren in action. Elma was an extraordinary grandma to Brandi Scimone, Martin and Megan Beck (Anthony) and Carly, Quinn and Tess McElroy. Whether it was helping them with their homework, organizing an art craft, taking them for a walk to the tide pools, playing Monopoly, or reading them a bedtime story and singing a lullaby, Grandma was always there for her grandkids, with her special mix of love, warmth, strength and wisdom. Despite her many accomplishments, Elma's greatest source of pride and happiness was her family. In the days and years ahead, we will always hear her voice and remember the wisdom and lessons she passed on to all of us. In addition to George, Charlie, Megan and her six grandchildren, Elma is survived by her daughter-in-law, Cindy Beck, son-in-law, John McElroy and her great-grandchild, Peyton Matzke. Because of her brave battle against cancer, Elma was able to hold, kiss and sing to Peyton during his first weeks of life. Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in Elma Beck's name to the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation. Please sign the guestbook at www.dailybreeze.com/obits. Please go to Rice Mortuary's website, www.LAfuneral.com to send the family messages, share memories, or to obtain directions to the services.

Published in Daily Breeze on Oct. 23, 2010
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