Bill Kirby Jr.: A Beck wedding to surely remember
By Bill Kirby Jr.
With the trumpet’s blare, Albert Beck would take a daughter’s arm, and a father would escort his little girl down the aisle of this old Episcopal church cathedral that stands tall in the downtown historic district of Charleston, South Carolina.
The bride-to-be was beautiful, and her smile of anticipation of this day told us of her joy.
A handsome groom was in wait.
“You definitely could feel the love,” Albert and LeAnna Beck would say on this May 7, 2021, evening, when Maria Elaine Beck and Christopher James Barton were just moments away from becoming man-and-wife at Grace Church Cathedral, circa 1846, with its steeple overlooking the city.
And the long-distance presence of Dolores Beck, the Beck family matriarch.
“We were so grateful that Grace Church Cathedral could livestream the ceremony so Mama, Aunt Anne and Aunt Mary could watch in real time as Elaine walked down the aisle,” Albert and LeAnna Beck say.
And, indeed, how Dolores Beck did share in this wedding day on her iPad from her Haymount home in Fayetteville.
“Two of my daughters stayed home with me, and we watched it together,” Mrs. Beck, 89, says. “We cried together. We saw the whole thing. We felt like we were there. I loved every minute of it.”
With 35 grandchildren, it was the first wedding of a grandchild Mrs. Beck ever has missed. And for every wedding, she says, it brings back memories of December 26, 1953, when Dolores Patrón married Charles Beck at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in her hometown of New Orleans.
“Oh, yes,” she says. “He was in dental school. It seems like yesterday.”
‘Mother’s Presence Truly Missed’
So many of us here in Fayetteville know Dolores Beck, who with her late husband, Dr. Charles Beck, arrived in this town more than 60 years ago and reared 10 children of their own in the old, burned brick home along Raeford Road. They raised seven daughters and three sons.
“My mother’s presence was truly missed by the family tremendously this year, because we have been blessed by her involvement for all the important events in our lives,” says Martha Beck Wood, the oldest of the Beck siblings. “She has attended her 35 grandchildren’s special events up until last September.”
Jim and Elaine Lewis, grandparents of the bride, shared in the joy of knowing Mrs. Beck could witness the wedding, even if from afar.
“Even before LeAnna and Albert were married, our small family has felt a part of the big, loving Beck family,” Elaine Lewis says. “So, it has been with such joy that we have shared family events with our extended family, especially our granddaughter Elaine’s wedding. We missed her beautiful presence, but knew she was right there sharing that honored ‘Grandmother Front Row’ with me. And I look forward to viewing our wedding together over a glass or two of wine soon and filling in those little details that the camera did not capture. It is such a joy to have Dolores as a friend and to share a fabulous granddaughter with her.”
A Promise to Keep
There were Becks everywhere in the cathedral – from Margaret Beck Collier, Catherine Beck Christianson, Dolores Beck Quesenberry, Miriam Beck de St. Aubin, Chip Beck and Joe Beck. And Beck grandchildren, too.
Anne Beck Charles and Mary Beck Stapleton remained in Fayetteville to be certain their mother didn’t miss a moment of the live stream.
Mrs. Beck didn’t just see her granddaughter’s wedding.
She saw all of the wedding trappings.
“This being the first family event that Mom has missed was of course very difficult for Mom as head of the family,” Joe Beck says. “We all did our part to make sure she was a part of the event with phone calls and photographs being sent to her all weekend.” For Joe Beck and his siblings, watching out for their mother, is a promise made and a promise kept.
“One of the last lunch conversations I had with Dad was that he told me if he was not around to ‘Always take care of your mother,’ and I told him that will never be an issue, because we have one of the greatest families and the whole family will look after Mom,” he says.
‘A Special Place in Our Hearts’
His words never are lost on brother Chip Beck.
“I was very happy to be at the wedding, as Albert and I are very close, having worked together for 10 years or more on the tour with Albert as my caddy,” says Chip Beck, who joined the PGA Tour in 1978, won four PGA Tour events, was runner-up in the 1983 Masters, runner-up in the 1986 and 1989 U.S. Opens. “As I looked around the rehearsal dinner and the wedding party, I felt a great pit in my stomach realizing Mom was not present, what she was missing and how she would have loved being with everyone.”
Martha Beck Wood still thinks of her niece’s wedding to include the rehearsal dinner, the wedding proper and the post-wedding reception at Daniel Island Club, where a new husband danced with his wife, and Becks were plentiful.
“My mother’s absence was definitely felt by all,” Martha Beck Wood says. “We are most appreciative that we have had a beautiful example of how to love and live a happy and healthy life from the matriarch of our large family. Her love and support has certainly enriched each one of her children and grandchildren.”
Contact Bill Kirby Jr. at bkirby@cityviewnc. com or 910-624-1961. Read more of his columns in our weekly Insider newsletter. Subscribe at cityviewnc.com or text CityView to 22999