Dr. Jan Beck, MD, DDS, 94, of Athens, PA, passed away on Friday, June 18, 2021, at Sayre Health Care Center.
He was born on March 10, 1927, in Renovo, PA, the son of the late Archie and Irene (née Anderson) Beck.
Jan graduated from Renovo High School, Class of 1945. As a teenager he worked in the Renovo Pennsylvania Railroad shops helping maintain locomotives, as well as for the local men’s haberdashery where he developed his noted sense of style. After high school, he joined the US Army Air Forces Air Cadet Program, before serving with the 64th Troop Carrier Squadron in the Philippines during WWII, where he was awarded a WWII Victory Medal.
Following the war, he attended Mansfield College and Penn State University, ultimately obtaining a DDS from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, graduating first in his class. Jan continued his education at the New York University School of Medicine, where he was awarded a full scholarship from Johnson & Johnson, earning an MD.
He began his residency at the Robert Packer Hospital in 1962, working closely with and befriending the Chief Resident at-the-time, Dr. John Thomas. Jan was appointed to the staff in 1965. Dr. Beck was a well-respected surgeon at Guthrie for the following 26 years. He initiated and performed all of the major head and neck cancer surgery, facial trauma, maxillary facial procedures, and skin flap operations for 20 of those 26 years. As a resolute educator of medical students and residents at the Guthrie, he was known for his famous “Beck-isms,” such as, when facing complications in the operating room, “We are beset by ill winds and contrary currents.”
Dr. Beck joined the American College of Surgeons as a Fellow in 1972, serving as the President of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter from 1987-1989 and attending every Clinical Congress from 1995-2005. He was also a member of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Bradford County Medical Society.
He retired from medicine in 1991 eager to spend more time on his hobbies. He was a skilled private pilot who earned ratings in instrument and acrobatic flight, as well as a soaring certification. Jan also enjoyed building and refinishing furniture and carving duck decoys. He was a dog lover throughout his life and owned Labrador Retrievers. Finally, he travelled widely and visited many military sites of historical significance.
Dr. Beck was predeceased by his beloved wife Janice (née Tomes) Beck.
Jan is survived by his children; Meredith Beck and her husband, Eric Mentzel of Eugene, OR and Jan T. Beck, CMSgt (Retired) and his wife, Nancy of Duncannon, PA, grandchildren; Cherise (Aaron) Hug, David (Beth) Beck, Erika (Conan) Broyles, and Alex Mentzel, great grandchildren; Mason, Vince, Phoenix, Forrest, and Aurora, and several nieces and nephews.
A Time of Visitation for friends and family will be held on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, from11am-1pm at the Lowery-Urban Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Inc., 225 South Main Street, Athens, PA. A Dual-Celebration of Life Service for Dr. and Mrs. Jan Beck will follow at 1pm at the funeral home with the Rev. Linda Rogers officiating.
Burial will be in Ft. Indian Town Gap National Cemetery, Annville, PA.
Memorial donations may be made in Dr. Beck’s name to the Bradford County Humane Society, SR Route 220, Ulster, PA 18850 or Stray Haven Animal Shelter, 194 Shepard Road, Waverly, NY 14892.
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