d. May 9, 2014
Lyda Bess “Betty” Stogner Beckett, age 97, died on May 9, 2014. Betty was born in Elk City, Oklahoma, and grew up in Dallas, Texas. Her father was a Baptist minister, and her mother taught elocution. They lived on the edge of poverty during the Depression but always managed to have books and newspapers in the house and to share with those who had even less. She carried this love of learning and commitment to social justice all her life.
Betty was an excellent student in high school but could not afford to take advantage of an offer of free tuition to SMU. She had a one-year scholarship to drama school then worked as a model, a drama coach and a secretary. She moved to California during World War II and worked as a receptionist at the Del Monte Lodge in Carmel, where she met Joan Crawford, Greer Garson, Salvador Dali, Bing Crosby and lived with Jean Arthur’s mother in her driftwood house on the point of Carmel Bay.
Toward the end of the war, she took courses to improve her secretarial skills at Monterey Union Adult School, taught nightly by a soldier stationed at Fort Ord, Alvin Beckett. Al courted and married Betty. They moved to New Jersey for Al to finish his doctorate, begun before the war, and had two daughters. Al returned to California to teach at San Jose State, and Betty went back to school at a time when few older women were in college. She graduated with honors from San Jose State as a speech pathologist and taught in the Berryessa, Union and Cupertino School Districts, as well as providing speech therapy at the Ming Quong home and practicing privately. She participated actively in the San Jose State Faculty Wives Association and served ably as president for several terms. After retiring, Betty traveled widely with Al and with friends. Betty and Al moved to University Retirement Community in Davis in 2004.
Betty and Al were married for 68 years. They were blessed with her generous helpful spirit, her sense of humor, her spirit of adventure and her enduring devotion. She is survived by her husband, Al Beckett, daughters Laurel Beckett (Daniel Tancredi) and Bonnie Beckett (Rolfe Larson), granddaughters Heather Buckser (Craig Buckser) and Charlotte Hoffmann, and great-grandchildren Alan and Lilac Buckser.
Donations in her memory may be made to the San Jose State Faculty Wives Scholarship Fund or to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.