Gary William Beck, age 91, formerly of Clay Center, passed away Friday, October 29, 2021 in the Journey House at Tabitha Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Gary was born at his grandmother’s home in Seneca on September 8, 1930, the son of William Elmer and Gladys Marie (Cross) Beck. He was raised on his parent’s farm outside Centralia and graduated from Centralia High School in 1948 where he played football and the trumpet. He worked on the family farm after high school until he served in the United States Air Force from 1952 until 1956. He then went to Kansas State University and joined the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and participated in Block and Bridle. He graduated from KSU in 1960 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science.
His first job after graduating was as a meat grader working with the USDA for meat packing plants in Garden City and Dodge City, KS. In 1963 he moved to Papillion, NE to work as the Farm Service Director at Clarke Bank. He married Mary Ellen Gaither on June 12, 1965 and they later had two children, Barry and Amy Jo. They moved to Clay Center, KS in 1966 as Gary was hired as the Agricultural Banking Officer at Union State Bank. Gary was an active member of the community and the Clay Center United Methodist Church. He was in the Kansas Livestock Association, Clay County Feeders, Leader of Methodist Youth Fellowship, General Chairman of the Piotique Celebration in 1968 and president of Methodist Men in 1970. In 1970 he began a successful career in real estate and led Gary Beck & Associates Motel Brokers for the next 20 years. In 1980 he was President of Nationwide Motel Brokers Association and joined the Sesostris Shrine Band playing his trumpet. After Gary and Mary Ellen divorced in 1983 he married Mary Louise Dreiling on December 20, 1986. In 1990 he began a second career as an Independent Insurance Agent specializing in Life and Health spanning the next 30 years.
Gary was a loyal KSU football fan with season tickets for over 50 years. He was an avid golfer for many years and enjoyed summers on his houseboat at Milford Lake. He completed many projects at his house in Clay Center including a large patio and fireplace made from limestone. He loved to cook, bake, grill and smoke meats.
His biggest passion was music. Even though the trumpet was his main instrument he also played piano, violin, clarinet, banjo and ukulele. He and Mary also sang in the church choir. He played the trumpet in the Clay Center City Band, Manhattan Municipal Band, The Thundering Cats as well as a Dixieland Band he created that performed many years at Piotique. He also played the violin in the Morganville Community Chamber Orchestra. He was a very proud member of Bugles Across America, playing taps at countless funerals over the years to honor veterans.
He is survived by his daughter, Amy Jo (George) Suarez of Lincoln, NE; his grandson, Nathan Suarez of Lincoln, NE; five nephews; two nieces; 13 great nieces and nephews; 23 great-great nieces and nephews and the mother of his children, Mary Ellen Gaither of Humboldt, NE.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Mary Louise Beck; his son Barry Alan Beck; three sisters, Berniece (Glen) Heiser, Maxine (Celestine) Gudenkauf and Bette (Edward) Fager and one nephew.
Memorial services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday, November 12, 2021 at the Clay Center United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends from 1:00 p.m. until service time on Friday at the church. Inurnment will be in the Greenwood Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Gary Beck Memorial Fund for the family to designate at a later time. Contributions may be left in care of the Anderes-Pfeifley Funeral Home.