James A. Beck, Jr, 61, of Danville, WV, passed away peacefully June 5, 2014 at CAMC Memorial Hospital, Charleston after a very sudden and short illness.
Jim's career in the coal mining industry started in 1971 as a general laborer in southwestern Pennsylvania. After becoming a certified first grade mine foreman in Pennsylvania, he progressed through the management ranks, holding positions as section foreman, general mine foreman and superintendent of safety. He has served as mine superintendent in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia. His management experience included serving as vice president of safety and training, vice president of operations and president CEO in the Central Appalachia coal region. He is a two time recipient of the West Virginia Coal Safety Leader of the Year award given by the West Virginia State Council of the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association.
After retiring from the coal industry, he was employed by Wheeling Jesuit University as a Project Director at the National Technology Transfer Center working on mine health, safety and technology innovations. Following the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion, he joined the Governor's Independent Investigation Panel to conduct an investigation and submit a report of findings regarding the mine disaster. In recent years, Jim managed his own consulting business, Beck Consulting Services, LLC; which focused on coal mine safety and operations.
He held a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from California University of Pennsylvania, an Associate degree in Mining Technology from Penn State Fayette campus and completed the Management Development Program at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. During his tenure as president of the Boone County Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association, the membership began the drive to erect a statue honoring coal miners on the lawn of the Boone County Courthouse. He chaired the dedication service for the "The Sentinel of Safety" the same weekend he was married to his wife Lisa, Labor Day 1991.
Jim enjoyed cooking for family and friends, maintaining a back yard garden, a Sunday afternoon Steelers game and fishing. He took pride in the care of his lawn which probably had its roots in his first job at the age of eight. He would cut lawns for $1 each in the small coal camp of Coverdale which would eventually become the municipality of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. He shared many fond memories and childhood experiences that occurred with the opportunity of growing up in a devoted family and close knit community which fortunately had both sets of his grandparents living just one block apart. He graduated from Bethel Park High School and many believed football was his favorite sport. But in truth, he enjoyed playing baseball the most and this began with him pitching at the Miners' Memorial Little League Field in Coverdale.
To his family, Jim was kind, generous, soft-hearted and most importantly dedicated. In his professional life, many would say he was a bit hard-nosed with high expectations for his self as well as with those he worked. He was a member of the Madison Methodist United Church and was preceded in death by his parents, James and Caroline Beck and his brother, Michael.
He is survived by his wife and best friend of 23 years, Lisa; son, Jim and his wife, Lori of McMurray, Pa. and their children, Allen and Julia Csuk; son, Michael of Deerfield Beach, Fla. and granddaughter, Leah Caroline, who was born this year on her great-grandmother Caroline's birthday; sisters, Deborah Faber and Sandra McCabe of Pennsylvania, Carol Currie of Michigan; and very dear to him, he leaves behind his devoted labrador retriever, Lucy.
Service will be 11 a.m. Monday, June 9 at Handley Funeral Home, Danville with the Rev. Frank Frye and the Rev. Tom Bias officiating. Good friends and respected colleagues who will be standing for Jim as pallbearers include: Doug Dahl, Carl Egnor, Harold Green, Davitt McAteer, Wayne Moore, Don Suddreth, Art Sullivan, Jerry Swanson, Terry Whitt and Joe Wills. Burial will follow in Memory Gardens, Danville. Visitation service will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 8.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial contribution may be made to the Madison United Methodist Church pew restoration and replacement project at MUMC, PO Box 216, Madison, WV 25130. You may express your condolences to the family at www.handleyfh.com.