Donald Robert Beck died September 23, 2022 at his home in Gold Creek surrounded by family and friends. Don was born in Deer Lodge on November 16, 1945 to Don “Bud” and Irene Beck, he was the oldest of eight children. He graduated from Powell County High School in 1964. He then attended Montana State University where he studied math for 2 years. Don was exceptional at math and would always help his kids with their homework rather it was at the high school or college level. He then went to flying school in Billings for six months before returning home to work on the family ranch at Galen. The next fall he went to Great Falls and instructed at a flight school. Don loved flying and owned a small plane that he did some unorthodox maneuvers in over the years. He had no problem landing on the highway to stop at the ranch to pick up his kids, shooting coyotes only a few feet above the ground or spotting elk for local hunters. A lot of his passengers were pretty white knuckled when they landed, but he always put her down “shiny side up.” Don attended the Northrop Institute of Technology in Inglewood, CA and studied aerospace engineering before again returning home to help on the ranch. Don was drafted into the Air Force on August 15, 1968 and was stationed at Atwater, CA tasked to the civil engineering squadron. While Don was away his father was in a serious vehicle collision and Don applied for and was granted a hardship discharge so he could go home and help his family on the ranch.
He married Jeannie M. Nelson on September 9, 1972 and moved to the ranch at Garrison. It was there that they raised their four children: Dana, Maggie, Brandy, and Don Jr. Don took his kids with him to work on the ranch and on many adventures over the years. They learned a lot of valuable lessons through the school of hard knocks. Jeannie died in 1995 and Don was looking forward to being reunited with her again after his death.
Don was a true outdoorsman and sportsman and enjoyed hunting and hiking mountain peaks. He guided for Tom Villeneuve from 1970-1979 in the Pintler Mountain range and helped harvest many elk, deer, bear, big horn sheep, and moose over the years. Don had a fire arms license and was like a little kid in a candy store when he got to help any of his customers find the perfect gun. He also had an explosives license giving him the ability to buy dynamite…I think he may be part of the reason why the screening is so tough to get a license today. Don blew up a lot of beaver dams and could send a tire hundreds of feet in the air just to show off.
Don later moved to the ranch at Gold Creek and continued ranching and raising cattle. He made a lot of good friends over the years and rarely missed break time with his good friend Dave Yoder and crew. Don employed a lot of young men to work alongside of him through the years and they all left with gratitude for Don and some valuable life lessons. Don enjoyed work and was eager to teach his young hired men a good work ethic that they could carry with them through their lives. He enjoyed boxing in his younger years and won a lot of his bouts. Don would go to the prison to spar with the inmates and teach them the art of boxing. They too learned a lot from Don, not just about boxing but also about hard work and putting in a solid effort if they wanted to succeed.
Don served on the Garrison School Board and was an active member of the Garrison Fire Department. Don would help anyone in need rather it was to lend advice, borrow money or pull them out of the ditch…if you asked, Don would be there. Don kept a list of many of his friends and families birthdays and would give each person a call every year to say happy birthday and check in on them.
Don is survived by his four children: Dana Beck (Ron McDonald), Maggie Beck, Brandy (Jim) Davis, and Don (Melanie) Beck. He has two grandchildren that were the highlight of his life: Gizelle Irene and Donald Henry (Ole). He has seven siblings: Nancy Jean, Sharon Louise, Peg, Ted (Julie), Pam (Rick) Hirsch, Jann (Kris) Kerpa, and Dave. Don also has many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Don was preceded in death by his wife Jeannie, his parents Bud and Irene Beck, his grandparents, and his nephews Zane Beck, Johnny Delaughder, and Doug D’Arcy.
Viewing and Visitation will be held at Immaculate Conception Church, 605 Clark St., Deer Lodge, MT beginning at 11:30 a.m. Graveside services will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge at 1:00 p.m. A celebration of life and luncheon will be held immediately afterward at the 45 Barn at Garrison located at 50 US Hwy 12 E.
Memorial donations can be made to the Garrison or Gold Creek Fire Departments, Rocky Mountain Stockgrowers Association, or to the donor’s choice. “No hurries, no worries” Don Beck.
Please visit below to offer the family a condolence or share a memory of Donald.
Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home and Cremation Services has been privileged to care for Donald and his family.