As Jim Blesse so appropriately wrote in notifying our A-2 classmates of Ron's
It is with great sadness that I must report to you about the passing (at 2130, 23 May) of Ron Beckett, who was my
roommate at West Point for more than 3 years and was one of the TRUEST friends I ever had over almost 43 years.
Ron had a great sense of humor which made a very positive and lasting impression on my life as I am sure it did on
yours. I do not know what the funeral arrangements will be - but will provide info as it is available - just wanted
to give you a "heads up". If you have questions, call me (Jim Blesse) at 703-791-5431 or Paul DeVries (the
Other roommate) at 703-799-4419 or (last choice) Jane Beckett at 410-827-8862.
Class Memorial Pages\A-2 Ron Beckett.pdf
The second highest ranking Anne Arundel County school official
died of liver cancer last night at his home in Grasonville. Ronald Lee Beckett, 61,
Associate Superintendent for Business and Management Services, was with his wife, school spokesman Jane Beckett, and other family and
friends at his death.
Mr. Beckett came to the county school system 17 years ago after a decorated career in the Army, including three tours in Vietnam.
During his final tour, Mr. Beckett was district senior advisor in Long Khanh Province. He retired from the service as a lieutenant colonel.
"He was kind of an anachronism in our time," Mrs. Beckett said.
"He really was a true patriot. He loved the flag. He loved the national anthem.
He loved the Army."
Mr. Beckett showed that same devotion to friends and colleagues.
Schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham, Mr. Becketts boss and friend, said he was unique in his
"real sense of duty, responsibility and loyalty — particularly loyalty."
"Its a great loss for the school system and me as superintendent," she said.
Mr. Becketts imposing stature and professional demeanor masked a wicked sense of humor. He also loved gadgets and electronic gizmos.
Kenneth P. Lawson, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and
Student Services, said his colleague was a favorite at retirement parties where he would dress in a turban and cape, imitating a Middle Eastern fortune teller character created by former late night talk show host Johnny Carson.
Theresa Cadell, who worked as Mr. Becketts secretary before retiring last year, said she looked forward to the
"supposed gifts" her boss brought back from business trips. One year she got a talking
"I thought about retiring for a long time, but he made working fun, so I kept hanging
on," she said.
Mrs. Cadell helped care for Mr. Beckett when he became too ill to work.
"His sense of humor was an important part of his personality and it remained with him until the end," she said.
Mr. Beckett, a 1961 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, received numerous awards during his military service including the Soldiers Medal, two Bronze Stars for Valor, a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service, three Air Medals for Meritorious Service, Combat Infantrymans Badge, and numerous other awards.
Mr. Beckett served as chief of Europe/NATO branch in the Security Assistance Division at the U.S. European Command in Germany.
"Ron may be the only authentic hero Ive ever known," Mr. Lawson said.
Other survivors include his daughters, Natasha Sabelhaus of Silver Spring, Natanya Beckett of Bowie, and his former wife, Nancy C. Beckett of Ocean City. He has three step-children and two grandchildren.
He is also survived by his mother, Margaret Gresham, and his half-brother,
David Gresham, both of Chapmanville, W.Va.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of Queen Annes, 300 Del Rhodes Avenue, Queenstown, MD 21658.
Assembly/Taps Memorial Article:
Ronald Lee Beckett was known for his leadership
abilities, incredible common sense, and fantastic sense of humor. He could always be counted on to do the right thing and was
never known to shirk his duty or responsibilities. These attributes contributed to Ron's reputation as an excellent officer in
both peace and war. Additionally, he was a superb athlete who could successfully participate in any sport. His 5'8" frame
and 18 1/2-inch neck naturally ragged him with the nickname of "Bucket" or "Bucks". Further, Ron was blessed with an intuitive
imagination that provided him the ability to solve the most difficult problems.
Ron was born in Logan, WV, to Guy and Margaret Beckett. He attended high school at Kentucky Military
Institute in Lyndon, KY, where he earned all-state honors as a fullback. Entering the Academy on 2 Jul 1957, he was assigned to
the 6th New Cadet Company and became fast friends with Jim Blesse and Paul DeVries. September found all three assigned to
Company A-2 with Ron playing fullback on the plebe football team.
Upon successfully surviving Plebe year, the three friends decided they would room together as yearlings.
Early in the year, an altercation with three upperclassmen gave the friends the nickname "The Three Bears". Ron, though
not the oldest, was respected for his fairness, maturity, and overall leadership and became known as "Papa Bear". Paul, the
oldest and always concerned about his roommates' academic and spiritual well-being, became known as "Mama Bear", and Jim, the
youngest and most free-spirited of the three, became "Baby Bear". The nicknames, as well as the friendships, lasted a
An A-2 classmate summed up the "Three Bears" friendship: "I think all of us were somewhat envious of the
close bond [the] roommates exhibited. [They] maintained such a sense of humor that no matter what the circumstances, [they]
helped the rest of us make our way through the maze known as cadet life."
Upon graduation, Ron and his fellow Bears joined the Infantry. While on graduation leave in his
hometown, Ron met Nancy Farley, and they married after Ron completed the Basic Course. Ron and his new bride reported to the
2d Battle Group, 14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, in Hawaii, where their first child, Natasha, was born in 1962. In
1963, Ron served his first tour in Viet Nam (a six-month voluntary TDY assignment from Hawaii) as the leader of a door-gunner
platoon in the 120th Aviation Battalion. Returning to the States in 1965, he deployed to Viet Nam with the 1st Infantry
Division, distinguishing himself as a company commander and staff officer.
The Bears were reunited at the Advanced
Course in 1967. Afterwards, Ron earned a masters degree in political
science from the
University of Alabama, graduating with distinction.
In 1969, he returned to Viet Nam,
where he served as a district senior advisor in
Long Khanh Province in III Corps. After this
tour, Ron was an ROTC instructor at Widner
College in Chester, PA. While there, he demonstrated
his all-around capabilities by volunteering
to teach a course open to the entire
student body, "Military and Foreign Policy."
Ron's course was a hit, and he enhanced the
image of the "soldier-scholar" at Widner. In
1971, Ron's and Nan's second child, Natanya,
Ron's military career continued with assignments in
1973 as commanding officer of
the Correctional Control Facility and XO of the 1st Training Brigade at Ft. Polk, as a student
at CGSC in 1976, followed by attaché
training at Ft. Bragg, and subsequent study
of Russian at the Defense Language Institute
in Monterey, CA. Ron was assigned to Headquarters,
Europe, in Stuttgart, Germany, as
chief of the Europe/NATO branch of the Security
Assistance Division. Back in the States
in 1982, Ron joined the staff and faculty of
the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks,
PA. He retired from the Army as a lieutenant
colonel in 1983 and accepted a position
as assistant superintendent of schools in Anne
Arundel County, MD. Here he served the school system with distinction as an educator,
administrator, and leader for 17years. During
this time, two grandchildren joined the Beckett
family: Max and Francesca, both born to
Natasha and her husband, Joe.
In 1997, Ron married Jane Walker Doyle,
a school colleague. In the years before his
death in 2000, they lived on the eastern shore
of Maryland, where their combined family of
five children and two grandchildren enjoyed
many happy times together. As luck would
have it, Ron's life-long friends, Jim and Paul,
also retired in the DC area. The Bears, along
with their spouses, made a pact to spend a
weekend together every six to eight weeks.
During these outings, they always rehashed
memories of their cadet days and their adventures
in the Army and thereafter.
In November 1999, Ron was diagnosed
with cancer. While undergoing treatment,
Mama Bear and Baby Bear visited frequently
to encourage their friend to rally. But, after six
months of battling cancer, Ron succumbed to
an enemy no soldier can conquer. By his side
until his death was his beloved wife, Jane.
Ron Beckett will be remembered as a
proud member of the Long Gray Line who loved West Point, a leader, a loving husband
and father, a consummate professional soldier,
a devoted friend, and a patriot. His humor, intellect,
courage, and compassion will live on in the hearts and minds of those of us who respected
and loved him. Ron enriched our lives
and the lives of all those around him. It was a
better Army because Ron was a part of it. And
West Point was a better institution because
Ron Beckett passed through it. Grip hands
with us all, Ron Beckett; you are with us still.
Jane Beckett-Donohue, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear
TAPS SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2004