Red Cliff’s Beck family to be honored for historic work |

Red Cliff’s Beck family to be honored for historic work

Kathy Heicher
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily | Eagle County Historical SocThe sons of Earl and Dessie Beck pose on the steps of their Red Cliff home in 1939 with their dog, Polly. In the back row are Buster and Bud; in the middle row is Quinn, Bruce and Jack; and Russell is in the front row.

EAGLE, Colorado – There’s no doubt about it: Eagle County history would be a lot less colorful without the Beck family of Red Cliff. In fact, local history archives would be much more sparse without the Becks, who have established themselves as keepers of history.

Buster Beck (who died last year) was a memorable storyteller. His wife, Angela, has been instrumental in the establishment of the Red Cliff museum and is a key contributor to the Eagle County Historical Society archives. Buster’s brother, Ted (Bud) Beck, has a talent for capturing memories in written word. The rest of the Becks (and there are lots of them) have also contributed to local history.

The Beck family will be honored with the Nimon-Walker Award at the Eagle Public Library on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. The annual award, established in 2011, recognizes individuals whose work has helped to preserve the history of Eagle County.

Earl and Dessie Beck brought their family to Red Cliff sometime between 1923 and 1925, and proceeded to raise their family of seven lively boys in that mountain town.

“We did a lot of roaming. We knew the hills between Red Cliff and Gilman like the back of our hands … every mine, every mill, every tramway. We thought we know everything,” recalls Ted (Bud) Beck, the oldest son, 88, who now lives in New Mexico.

During the years the Beck boys were growing up, Red Cliff was a mining and logging town.

“It was a dirty little place, due to the smoke and cinders from the railroad locomotives passing through town, and everybody cooked and heated with coal,” Ted said. “But it was always a good little town.”

Ted has contributed detailed stories of Red Cliff’s past to the town’s oral history project.

Like her husband, Angela (Fear) Beck grew up in Red Cliff. She graduated from Red Cliff Union High School in 1949 (graduating class of 10 students). She and Buster raised their family of 10 in the “Beck Place” – the same house on Water Street where Buster grew up. Angela, 80, says that everything Buster’s parents and grandmother owned was in that house. Subsequently, Angela’s stash of old photographs and memorabilia have been key contributions to the little Red Cliff museum and the Eagle County Historical Society archives.

“I never threw anything away,” Angela said.

Her brother-in-law Ted teases that Angela “badgers” him regularly seeking help in getting the right identifications on photos and getting facts nailed down.

“Angela is here constantly bringing artifacts to the museum, watching for artifacts other people might have and persuading them to donate,” said Red Cliff Town Clerk Barb Smith.

The museum is located in the town hall and it is usually Angela who opens the doors for visitors. The Beck kids also help out at the museum.

Eagle Valley Library District Archivist Jaci Spuhler says the Beck family’s collective contributions have added more than 300 photographic images to the online historical photo collection. The Becks have also connected the library and the Eagle County Historical Society to many other Red Cliff and Minturn families, further bolstering the archives and historic records.

“Many friendships have resulted,” says Spuhler.

The Beck family, modest by nature, tends to downplay their role in preserving local history. Still, they are proud of what they can contribute.

“Red Cliff was just a good little place to live. We have a lot of good memories there … a lot of stuff will be forgotten,” Ted said.

The Nimon-Walker award celebration is open to any interested person.

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