October 13, 1932 - April 4, 2017 Nick Beck - university professor, sports writer, book and Hollywood memorabilia collector, Budd Schulberg's bibliographer, trivia buff and connoisseur of fine mixed spirits - died following about five months of hospital and rehab care, the aftermath of a broken hip and subsequent internal organ failure. He died hoping to see one more Laurel & Hardy film, one more Bruin basketball game, one more of Musso's martinis and a little bit more of everything. Born in Hollywood, Nick's mother was widowed when he was a child. He attended Blessed Sacrament elementary, Hollywood and Loyola high schools. He was graduated from Loyola and immediately enrolled in Los Angeles City College's journalism department with hopes of becoming a sports writer "and cover the big boxing matches at the Olympic Auditorium and the Hollywood Legion Stadium." Following two years in the Army during the Korean War, he returned to LACC and served as editor of the student newspaper, the Collegian. He went on to what was then Los Angeles State College (now Cal State University L.A.) for a degree in journalism and in 1958, a master's degree at UCLA. He accepted a teaching position at Cal State L.A. while a graduate student at UCLA. In 1975, he was awarded a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in history of education. His dissertation was a history of the education of Native-American, African-American, Mexican-American and Asian-American children in California public schools from 1850 to 1890. He retired from teaching in 1988. As a student and later a teacher, Nick worked at the Hollywood Citizen News and then UP and UPI. In 1964, he covered boxing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo; and the 1968 games in Mexico City. He wrote of the beginnings of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier among others. Journalism wasn't all fun and games. On Aug. 11, 1965, while working for UPI at what was to be called the Watts Riots, he took a beating at the intersection of Imperial Highway and Avalon Blvd. Nick wrote, "I was pulled to safety by an African-American activist, Robert Hall, who may be said to have saved my life." In retirement, Beck wrote a newsletter for journalism alumni of LACC and for more than 10 years was a docent at the Hollywood Heritage Museum in the Lasky-DeMille Barn as well as being a board member of Hollywood Heritage. He acquired books and built collections of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Budd Schulberg, Ernest Hemingway and Christopher Isherwood. Many are signed or inscribed. Nick wrote, "We all have regrets and we make mistakes. With a little luck we learn to be better people. We must think about the reasonably good things we've done and the things we hope to do. And be grateful we live in America." Beck is survived by a niece, Ann; nephew, Peter; grandnephews Nicholas and Morgan, thousands of former students and the many who shared his unwavering interests. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Nick Beck Scholarship Fund, LACC Foundation, 855 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90029. For information about a planned memorial, phone (818) 718-8566.
Published in Los Angeles Times from Apr. 24 to Apr. 30, 2017.