Clarence J. Beck, 90, died unexpectedly on March 20, 2011, at the Exeter Hospital after a brief illness. He was born on Oct. 29, 1920, in Pratt. Clarence lived in Pratt with an uncle while his parents and sister moved to the Panhandle of Oklahoma, which became the epicenter of the Dust Bowl.


Clarence J. Beck, 90, died unexpectedly on March 20, 2011, at the Exeter Hospital after a brief illness. He was born on Oct. 29, 1920, in Pratt. Clarence lived in Pratt with an uncle while his parents and sister moved to the Panhandle of Oklahoma, which became the epicenter of the Dust Bowl. 

During summers Clarence worked on the family farm as drought and dust devastated the region. His experience during those years was captured through an interview included in Ken Burns’ upcoming documentary about the Dust Bowl.

After completing high school, Clarence attended Pratt Community College and earned a Bachelor of Science in metallurgical engineering from the University of Kansas. It was during that time he met his future wife Hazel, the superintendent of a Pratt Hospital. They married in 1943 and remained wed for 63 years until her death in 2007.

Clarence served for two years in the US Army and began a distinguished 30 year career with the General Electric Company in Schenectady, N.Y. He was a pioneer in the nuclear power industry and holds patents for several nuclear reactor parts for submarines. He has written publications in the field of engineering and been listed in Who’s Who in Engineering and Who’s Who in Atoms.

The University of Kansas honored him with the “Distinguished Engineering Service Award.”  In the late 1970’s, Clarence came out of retireament  to serve as a foreign project manager for the Avery Division of Combustion Engineering in Newington, N.H.

As an engineer, Clarence remained fascinated by scientific advances and was an avid user of the computer, searching for information, sending emails and Skyping his daughter.

Mr. Beck is survived by his daughter Lynda K. Beck and her partner Susan R. Ratnoff of Exeter, N.H.; a sister, Irene Hauer of Hayward, Calif.; his many friends and a caring staff at Langdon Place.

Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Brewitt’s Funeral Home, Exeter. Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Central Cemetery in Rye, N.H.

Clarence and his wife Hazel recognized the value of education and were long time supporters of student scholarship funds. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in their memories to the Clarence & Hazel Beck Scholarship Fund, Pratt Community College Foundation, 348 NE State Rd. 61, Pratt, KS 67124

To sign an on line guest book, please visit www.brewittfuneralhome.com