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Carolyn Beck: educator, lifelong learner, tennis player

 

Carolyn Beck, a longtime Claremont resident, died January 27 of complications from dementia. She was 85.

The youngest of three sisters, she was born Carolyn Rosner in Los Angeles in 1933, and lived her entire life in California.

After graduating from Dorsey High School, Carolyn became friends at work with Charlotte Acree, whose brother would become her husband. Carolyn and Francis Russell (Russ) Acree married in 1952. They had three children and raised their family on Richbrook Drive in Claremont. Russ Acree died in 1969.

As a single mother, she became deeply involved in the tight knit community on Richbrook, a neighborhood with plentiful gatherings and packs of kids playing well after the streetlights came on. She forged some of her deepest friendships there, with relationships that lasted her entire life. One of those neighbors was Fred Beck, who became an integral part of her family. They married in 1984.

She worked in education for 25 years, first at Vista Del Valle Elementary School in Claremont, then at Harrison Elementary in Pomona. She prided herself on being able to help some of the toughest students succeed.

She was a driven student herself. While working full time and raising her children, she began taking classes at Cal Poly Pomona, working toward a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences. She graduated cum laude in 1982, the same year her youngest child graduated from Claremont High School.

A lifelong learner, she always had stacks of marked-up, dog-eared textbooks piled on the dining room table.

When she and Fred Beck eventually moved to San Clemente, she wasn’t one to flip through pages of airy summer novels. Instead, she toted her highlighter pen and textbooks to the beach, and kept on studying long after she had earned her degree.

She and her husband relished their active community in San Clemente. She was an avid tennis player and loved running on the beach. She volunteered for many years at the San Clemente Ocean Festival and could regularly be spotted walking dogs from the local animal shelter or helping an elderly neighbor.

She loved music, and right up to the end of her life was rocking out to the Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and anything by the Beatles. Her daughter recalls that instead of a television in the living room, they had a turntable. You could often find her dancing in the kitchen with her family, blasting Three Dog Night, “Hey Jude,” or Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”

She will be greatly missed by her three children, Doug, Pam and Lisa, and her son-in-law Mark Selcow, along with grandkids Lucy, Andrew and Nora. Her surviving family also includes Dave Beck and Margie Boule; Virginia Lawson and Blaine Cavena; Diane and Bill Lantz; Jaime and Teri Beck; grandchildren Cale, Maren, Laurel, Molly, Amber, Nowell, Hailey, Danny, Kristi and their families; sisters-in-law Marj Beck and Jean Papac; sister Doris Ann D’Amico; sister- and brother-in-law Charlotte and Jim Gilbert; and many nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank the caring staff at the Silverado Berkeley Memory Care Community, who were loving and compassionate, and danced to the Beatles with Carolyn.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to one of the causes she was passionate about: the Pet Project Foundation, at petprojectfoundation.org, or the San Clemente Military Family Outreach, at militaryfamilyoutreach.com, or your local animal shelter or veterans support group.

A celebration of her life is planned for summer.