Jim was born on July 6, 1927 to Dewey and Viola (Simmons) Beck in Monroeville, OH, residing there his entire life. He was an active member of the Monroeville High School band, and enjoyed it so much that he, his sister Phoebe, and his favorite neighbors, cousins Bob and Bill Schug, would all play their instruments as they marched their way to school. Jim’s favorite childhood past time was playing in the Huron River with his buddies. He was there so often that he kept a pair of bathing trunks hanging on a tree branch by the river. In school, he was involved in basketball, baseball, track, football, and choir, and while he laughed about struggling with his spelling and grammar grades, he did enjoy school.
Immediately after graduating from Monroeville High School, Jim enlisted in the Navy on May 30, 1945. He trained at NTC Great Lakes, IL, and served at the US Naval Air Base, Peleliu, in the Philippines. Jim loved telling stories of being on the island of Peleliu, where he befriended a monkey, he named ToJo. He was awarded the American Area Campaign Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, and the Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal. While in the Navy, Jim was a member of the elite Blue Jackets men’s choir. He was discharged in 1946 as a Fireman 1st Class.
Jim entered Tiffin University in 1946, graduating in 1948 with a degree in accounting. While in college, Jim was a member of the men’s choir and the orchestra. After graduation, Jim liked to frequent Meggitt’s record store where he pretended to be interested in their records. In reality, he was interested in the pretty brunette who worked behind the counter. After gaining the courage to ask her for a date, he and Gloria Wagner courted for a short time. They fell in love and married on March 11, 1950 in Angola, IN. Over the years, they loved to take their seven children camping – in a big tent! They especially enjoyed going to East Harbor, where they camped for many years. Being a music lover, Jim became a high school choir director at the Monroeville Congregational UCC, building it to a 31-member choir. Even today, members of that choir call Jim “friend.”
Carrying on the family tradition, Jim served as a Monroeville volunteer fireman for over 29 years, the last three years serving as the Fire Chief. Before him, Jim’s grandfather and father served as the Fire Chief, and Jim’s son, Tom, recently retired as the Fire Chief. Jim’s grandson, Justin Collins, serves on the Beavercreek Fire Department, completing five generations of firefighters.
Jim retired from General Electric in 1985 and later worked part-time until 1989 at Hess Hardware in Monroeville, where he enjoyed every customer while tinkering with tools.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, and his sister Phoebe Simonds. He is survived by his wife Gloria, with whom he shared 69 glorious years of marriage, children Julie (Joe) Murawski, Hilliard, Bonnie Beck, Monroeville, Jamie (Peter) DePaola, Coventry, CT, Tom (Mickey) Beck, Norwalk, David (Ann) Beck, Monroeville, Don (Krista) Beck, Bellevue, and Dale Beck, Monroeville; 19 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Friends may call from 4:00 – 7:00 PM, Monday, April 22, 2019 at The Chapel, 156 S. Norwalk Road W., Norwalk. Funeral services will be held in The Chapel at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Pastor Charles Conrad will officiate. Burial will be in the Riverside Cemetery, Monroeville.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to: The Chapel, 156 S. Norwalk Rd, Norwalk, OH; the Huron River Joint Fire District, 155 Monroe St., Monroeville, OH: Heartland Hospice, 907 W. State St. Suite A, Fremont, OH 43420.
Pfeil Funeral Home, Monroeville Chapel, 109 Monroe Street, Monroeville is assisting the family with arrangements.
Condolences may be shared with the family at pfeilfuneralhome.com.