Charles Edward Beck (Charlie) left this world on the morning of October 6 at the age of 93. Mount Powell loomed at his back as it had for 60 plus years as he farmed and ranched in the Deer Lodge Valley. Charlie was born to Peter L and Margaret (O'Keefe) Beck on November 20, 1925. His birth occurred at a midwifery on the north end of Second Street in Deer Lodge. In later years he was joined by three sisters, Marge (Shandy), Rita (Morgan), and Helen (Hallingstad). Only Marge survives. Charles was the apple of his mother's eye. She called him Little Charlie and the name stuck for life. Whenever Charlie misbehaved the sisters remarked "Not our little Charlie". Charlie received his primary education at a couple of one room schoolhouses, first being Bradley Tech near the family homestead at Beck Hill and later at Finn. He talked of walking to school and skiing when conditions allowed. At the tender age of 10, he was already responsible for tending the family sheep camps in the hills around Avon and Helmville. Later the family moved to Deer Lodge and lived on California Avenue. He worked at the Deer Lodge Creamery as a young man until graduating from Powell County High School at the age of 17. World WW II was well underway, but despite his wishes to participate Charlie was granted an agricultural deferment. After high school he and best friends Emmett O'Keefe and Sam Beck worked construction, building highways and learning to be scraper hands.
In 1948 Charles married Rhea Farnsworth and they moved to his parents’ ranch at Helmville, the Spring Creek Ranch. They worked hard, building a new home on the ranch and welcoming their first child Diana (Warner). They had been snowed in all winter, so when delivery date drew close Charles hauled Rhea to Helmville on a horse drawn sleigh. Prior to the arrival of the next child (Pete) they managed to purchase a ranch in the Deer Lodge Valley and moved to the family ranch. Diana and Pete were joined by Charlies' half-sister Barbara when her parents passed away, and later by younger brother Doug. Rhea passed away in 1982. Charles was known as an excellent farmer and rancher. His proudest achievement in agriculture was growing certified seed potatoes with his two sons in Deer Lodge and marketing them across the Pacific Northwest and into Canada. He was known for having some of the biggest calves in the county when marketing time rolled around.
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In 1983 Charles married Karla Sherlock, and they created a beautiful home on Center Street in Deer Lodge. They had many wonderful years together until Karla passed in 2005.The couple wintered in Mesa Arizona and enjoyed having a respite from the harsh Montana winter. One of Charlies’ final hopes was to return to Arizona for this upcoming winter. He remembered all too well feeding cows with a pitchfork from a horse drawn wagon or sleigh.
He is survived by his children Diana (John) Warner, Pete, and Doug, and half-sister Barbara (Jim) Weis. There are numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. Celebration of his life will be held on Saturday October 12 at First Baptist Church, 127 Sam Beck Road, Deer Lodge MT. Viewing will be at 10 am, service at 11 am. Luncheon will follow at the Broken Arrow Lounge, Main Street Deer Lodge.