Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Obituary Read. . .

William H. Beck

July 7, 2007

William H. Beck, 77, of Fulton, NY, passed away July 7, 2007, at Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York. Mr. Beck was born June 10, 1930, the son of William G. and Matilda Wassenmuller Beck. Until his retirement, he was the owner of William H. Beck, Inc., a trucking firm in Fulton.

Before moving to Fulton, he was a longtime dairy farmer in Dutchess County, as was his father. He is survived by a son, Wayne, and his wife, Sandra Nelson, and their children, Olivia and Erin of Centennial, CO; a stepson, Scott, and his wife, Penny Nelson, of Staatsburg, NY; a stepdaughter, Debbie, and her husband, Adam Leavitt, of CT; a brother, Edwin Beck of Poughkeepsie; a sister, Matilda Hohl of Plainfield, MA; longtime friend, Merle Coy; also several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Graveside services will be on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. Memorial services will be held in Becket, MA, at a later date. Friends will be notified by the family as to time.

Arrangements by the Sutton Funeral Homes, One Woodside Place, Highland, NY.

To send online condolences, please visit www.suttonfuneralhomes.com


My longtime friend Ken Sheldon forwarded that notice to me this morning. Ken, as you long time readers know has worked with me for many years and Ken was the only person besides me; Bill Beck would allow me to have working on his projects. Getting Bill to agree to let Ken be involved, was almost as hard as ‘letting go’ of those applications was for me.

I mentioned Bill Beck a year or so ago (in March of 2006), in this post, and again in this one.

I talked about what *I* did, how that first project came together, and how it pretty much got me started.

The truth is, Bill didn’t ‘kinda’ get me started, he not only got me started, he got me rolling and by continuing to provide me with steady work, gave me the courage to forge ahead with my first successful consulting venture. No, that’s exactly not right either; he was the cornerstone of my first business venture that actually ever made a profit.

More than that though, he was a good man. He was honest, if he made you a promise, you could absolutely count on, that whatever he promised you, he would make good on that promise.

He was also a generous man, I have vivid memories of times I’d be in his offices, stopping in as I passed by for one reason or another and he’d see me there and say:

“Glenda, write Bill a check for $500!”

I’d always say something to the effect of “Bill, you don’t owe me any money.”

Every time, he’d reply “I know, but I will.”

I always took it as a sign of his faith in me, and the work I’d done… Maybe it was just his way; I prefer to think it was something more personal though.

He was also a demanding man. He held no quarter for broken promises, missed deadlines or less than accurate work. He also knew he was the customer, and when he needed something, he wanted it right now, not tomorrow, or next week, but right now.

If he was upset, he made no politically correct attempt to explain his view of the situation. He’d let you know, often ‘colorfully’, just exactly what was on his mind.

I still have a vivid, near picture perfect recollection of the conversation we had the first time he felt I didn’t deliver exactly what I’d promised him. He must have yelled at me for 45 minutes. I remember thinking at the time, that, “Well, I guess that’s the end of the road here.”

About 20 minutes later, as I was finishing up installing the new equipment I’d brought in, Bill walked back in to the room and said: “Hey, have you got plans for lunch?”

Just like that, it was over… We went to lunch, where he laid out the plans he had for the business, and a whole new piece of software he wanted me to design and write.

Eventually, during lunch, I asked him why he was telling me this, as I thought after what he’d said earlier, I was going to lose his business. He went on to explain that when he’s upset, he just had to get it off his chest, and then, once he’s done that, he’s done with it all.

Bill went on over the years to ‘christen’ every person who ever worked for me. They all knew his company, and how important it was to me, for many reasons. Eventually they’d answer the phone when he called, and he’d let them know, in no uncertain terms, why I needed to call him, and for me to call sooner, rather than later.

I’d always ask them to sit with me when I made that return phone call, in each and every case he thanked me for getting back to him so quickly, and then let me know what he needed and when, we then went on to do just that.

I also stole a "line" from Bill. When I first asked him how he ended up in Fulton, NY from his place in Massachusetts, he said:

“I came here with a 90 day contract to haul grain; I’ve been here ever since.”

He grew that business from one truck to around 40 Tractor Trailers, and a number of dump trucks as well, employing in excess of 40 or 50 drivers, and several folks on his office team as well. As far as I know he was still running all of the software I developed for him when he retired.

These days, when folks ask me how I came to be living in North Carolina I say:

“I came here in ’93 on a 90 day programming contract; I’ve been here ever since.”

I’ve also come to realize I’ve spent the vast majority of my professional life developing software for the transportation business. At first, for Bill Beck’s trucking company, later for an insurance company who specialized in insuring trucking companies, and now for the Railroad industry. I doubt any of that would have ever happened, had I not met Bill Beck.

Life is funny, almost spooky, sometimes, I was thinking back a bit on Saturday, and got to thinking about those days, and Bill Beck, and found myself wondering just how he was doing. I had no idea where he was, or that I would see that notice today.

I went by the funeral home website, and left a little note for his family. I have no idea if they even knew who I was, but I certainly knew and respected him.

I know my life has been better, and followed a particular path, simply because our paths crossed.

I also know that I’m a better man for having known him.

God Speed Bill, you’ll be greatly missed.

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Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


You have my best wishes. I know how it feels to lose a long-time friend; having lost 2 of them myself in the past few months.

Take care - -


Bill said...

Liz - Thanks, it's both sad and a celebration I guess... sadness for our loss, yet a need (on my part anyway) to celebrate their life.

I hope you and Steve are doing well!