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Life Story / Obituary
A stranger to none and a friend to all, Marion LaVern Beckwith was the sort of person everyone knew and loved. He was outgoing, accepting, and genuine with a spirit of generosity that was unmatched. A loving husband and devoted father, LaVern took these roles to heart, but he just might have argued that there was nothing better than becoming a grandfather to the grandchildren he adored. A goofy guy, he loved to joke around, and in many ways he was a kid at heart. Life will never be the same without LaVern here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
The 1930s were some of the darkest days we have faced as a nation as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and countless Americans were left doing whatever they could to make ends meet. Despite the trials around them, Clair and Flossie “Leona” Beckwith were able to focus their attention on an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Marion LaVern on November 11, 1937, in Reading, Michigan. The oldest of six children, he was raised alongside his younger siblings, Donald, Paul, Ronald, Jim, and David.
In many ways LaVern was a young boy of his generation. His father was a farmer for most of his life, but he also ended up at a flour mill. Eventually, LaVern’s father owned a country store in Corunna, Michigan, as their family moved several times while he was growing up. LaVern spent time living in Reading, Owosso, and Corunna. He enjoyed going to his grandparents and Uncle John and Aunt Lucille’s. LaVern spent his summers working on the farm as he was just four or five and already pushing tillers! He attended seven different schools, eventually graduating from high school at Owosso Bible College. From there, LaVern attended Olivet Nazarene College for one semester until the money ran out. He then returned home and began working at Harris Milling with his father. LaVern later worked for Universal Electric in Owosso.
New and exciting changes were in store for LaVern when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Doris, and they met while in youth group with the Church of the Nazarene. They began dating, and it wasn’t long before LaVern and Doris had fallen deeply in love. After three years, LaVern married his sweetheart right after she graduated from high school on August 23, 1958. The newlyweds initially lived in Owosso but later moved to Swartz Creek, Michigan, which is located near Flint. After one year, LaVern and Doris moved to Quincy. Together they welcomed four children including Vicki, Linda, Valarie, and Marion into their hearts and home. It was so easy to see just how much LaVern loved his family. He was known to start singing to Doris about how lucky she was to have him at any moment. LaVern also loved teasing her and making her laugh until she said, “LA-Vern,” in a stern voice. After 46 years in Quincy, LaVern moved with his wife to Vicksburg.
To support his family, LaVern worked in a variety of industries. He spent a couple years working in tool and die for Chevrolet, but this was hard for him because he worked seven days a week and had no time for family. From there he worked as a meat cutter for his brother Paul’s grocery store in Quincy. A jack of all trades, LaVern later worked for the wheat mill in Quincy, Star of the West Milling Co., while at the same time working for Acorn Windows. He worked for a mental health facility in Coldwater, then worked as part-owner of a pool business, however, his family never had a pool of their own! LaVern worked for Echrich and also had his own construction company called Beckwith Builders. In 1979 he made his final career move when he took a job in construction with the State of Michigan. He spent time working for the prison in Jackson and then later for the prison in Coldwater until retiring in 1994.
Throughout his life LaVern was a man of many interests. He absolutely loved to fish, and he was also an avid golfer. After retiring, LaVern and his wife went out to Yellowstone where they worked for five months. He loved building and fixing anything, was a voracious reader, enjoyed working on puzzles, and was even known to watch “chick flicks” with Doris. LaVern loved to wear tons of MSU stuff, and it always drew attention and allowed him to make new friends - even when out of state. Every year for 25 years, LaVern and Doris went to Aird Island in Canada where Vicki’s in-laws had a cabin. Some years, they went for the entire summer where they did plenty of fishing, hiking, blueberry picking, laying around in the hammock, and just playing with grandkids. LaVern wasn’t a pet lover, unless they were someone else’s pets. He tried to be a pet owner when his kids were younger and got two beagles for hunting dogs. Soon, LaVern’s girls had turned them into pets, which meant they wouldn’t chase deer anymore. That was the end of that.
Later in life, LaVern was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandfather, and it was easy to see that Victoria, Jon, and Aidan were his greatest source of pride and joy. Tori called him her “donut hero” as he was always taking her out for donuts, and LaVern was the one to walk her down the aisle. He loved having his grandchildren over, even if he was playing Barbies!
All who knew Marion LaVern Beckwith would agree that he was one of the kindest people around. He had vast amounts of patience such as when he took the neighborhood kids fishing. Although he often worked two jobs when the kids were young, LaVern was very involved with his family. Not only did his loved ones never question his love for them, but they also felt so safe with LaVern around. He will be deeply missed, but his family and friends will be forever blessed because of his love.
Marion LaVern Beckwith, from Vicksburg, formerly of Quincy, passed away on February 16, 2017. LaVern’s family includes his wife, Doris; children: Vicki Rigg, Linda Beckwith, Val (Mark) Montgomery, Marion (Doug) Benac; grandchildren: Victoria (Kaleb) Jones, Jon Rigg, and Aidan Benac; as well as many nieces and nephews. LaVern was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Donald. Visit with his family and friends and view his life story film on Saturday, February 25th, at Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene at 10 a.m. (649-2392), with a memorial service to follow. Please visit LaVern’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo, and sign his memory book online. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Indian Lake Nazarene Campground