Martha Beck is shown at SunQuest Healthcare Center with flowers she received in honor of her 100th birthday. Today has been proclaimed Martha Beck Day in South Dakota in honor of her 100th year. PHOTO BY CRYSTAL PUGSLEY/PLAINSMAN
If there’s one set of modern appliances that truly made her life easier, it would have to be the washing machine and clothes dryer, said Martha Beck, who celebrates her 100th birthday today.
Beck was honored with a certificate from Gov. Dennis Daugaard claiming that today is Martha Beck Day in honor of her birthday.
She lived on her own at home until entering SunQuest Healthcare Center two years ago.
“We hung a lot of clothes,” said Beck, who made sure she ironed her sheets until just two years ago when she moved into the nursing home. “Sometimes we had to dig snow out from under the clothesline, first.”
Beck was born Feb. 9, 1912, to John and Martha Brandsma at Egan. She attended school in Moody County and graduated from Egan High School.
She grew up with five brothers and sisters, and two grandchildren her parents raised.
After attending Eastern Normal School she began her teaching career in rural schools in Moody County.
She married Jesse E. Beck June 16, 1940, at her parents’ home, and they began ranching near Ree Heights. He died in 1982.
She has two children, Erlyn Beck of Fort Pierre, and Warren (Janet) Beck of Milbank, one granddaughter who lives in Wichita, Kan., and a great-grandchild who is expected to arrive on June 1.
After her marriage, she resumed her teaching career in 1956 in country schools in Hand and Hyde counties and the Highmore Public School.
At the same time, she continued her education in the summers by attending Wessington Springs Junior College, Black Hills State College and Huron College, obtaining a degree in elementary education.
While taking courses in Wessington Springs, she drove 15 miles from their home to the junior college, staying all week and coming home on weekends.
“She’d go to school early so she could start the fire and get it warmed up before the kids came,” Erlyn Beck said of her mother. “She was also the janitor.”
Besides helping on the ranch and teaching school, Beck also provided for her family by canning and freezing gardening produce each year.
“The day Warren was born I was canning with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law,” Beck said.
Beck said she worked as long as she could before finally allowing her mother-in-law to take her to the hospital in Miller to give birth.
“Family was very important to mother,” said Warren Beck.
His family’s heritage can be linked to what is known as the Lone Tree in Moody County, a site now identified by a historical marker at the intersection of S.D. Highway 34 and Old Highway 77.
“My mother’s mother had gone down to the Sioux River and pulled up a cottonwood tree to use as a marker for the corner of their property,” he said.
Beck said she’s enjoyed her life, and hopes she has instilled a sense of faith and love for fellow men in her children.
“I wouldn’t live without faith,” she said. “Faith is the root of love.
“There’s not a person I don’t love,” Beck added, grinning. “They may not love me, but I love them.”For the complete article see the 02-09-2012 issue.
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