Una Harrison Beck

by Lynn McMillen
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Una Harrison Beck, “Granny” to her family, died peacefully surrounded by loved ones on the afternoon of July 28th. Una was born in 1938 in Luverne, AL to Sim Ross Harrison and Una Grace Walker Harrison. Throughout her life, Una was active and invested in her community and loved her family dearly.

Una graduated from Autauga County High School in 1955. After high school, she worked for Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL as a stenographer. The Pentagon sent a request for a stenographer to work in Washington, D.C., and they recommended Una for the position. She moved to D.C., where she met James Robert “Buddy” Beck on a blind date. In 1957, they married, and together they had four children: Bob, Bryan, Benjie, and Beth.

In 1963, the family moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where Una spent time raising her children and getting involved in the local community. The Beck family joined Ford’s Chapel United Methodist Church that same year and has had at least one active family member up to this day. Una was always involved in activities at the church and at Evangel School, where her children attended.
In 1970, Una started a career at Redstone Arsenal working for the Department of Defense. During that time, she studied procurement at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She obtained her degree in 1983 and continued working for the Army until her retirement in 2004. Una was a driven individual and highly accomplished in her field. Instead of transitioning to a life at home, she went back to work for TSMO until her official retirement in the fall of 2021.

While working on the Arsenal, Una made numerous friends and acquaintances. Her closest group of friends called themselves the YaYa’s. They had regular lunch dates, traveled together, and enjoyed life to the fullest.

Throughout her life, Una stayed involved with her high school classmates. She helped organize their yearly reunions and cherished the friendships they shared. Her best friend from childhood and high school, Jeri Jackson, also settled in Huntsville, and they enjoyed numerous adventures, like renting a convertible to travel the West Coast together.

Una was passionate about many things, especially her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was an exceedingly talented and creative seamstress. Her children were able to model her fashions at school, church, and even Halloween. She loved to dress up not only her children, but also herself. Anyone who knew Una knew that she was a fashionista. Ever the cool mom/grandma, she made sure we were always arriving in style. She loved to drive her white convertible around listening to Elvis, ABBA, and everything in-between.

Una also had a passion for charity and helping those in need. She found every opportunity to use what she was blessed with to benefit the lives of friends and strangers alike. Under her beautiful exterior, was a huge heart that gave freely. One of her favorite causes was animal welfare. She donated to numerous charities and fed every wild animal that came to her door.

Una is survived by her son, James Robert Beck (Dawn); daughter, Frances Elizabeth Vandiver (John); and her daughter-in-law, Zeny Tulagan Beck. She greatly loved her grandchildren: Megan Renee Beck, Lauren Vandiver Pelto (Tommy), Taylor Vandiver Reeder (Drake), and Bryan Douglass Vandiver (Katie), as well as her two great-grandchildren, James Allen Reeder and Evelyn Grace Pelto. Una Beck was preceded in death by her husband, James Robert “Buddy” Beck, and sons, Bryan Dendy Beck and Benjamin Dale Beck.

A visitation will be held on Sunday, July 31st at 1:15 PM in the Ford’s Chapel United Methodist Church sanctuary, with a funeral service following at 2:00 PM. A graveside service will follow at Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Chip Grouby, Tom Kelly, Jim Kilpatrick, Tommy Pelto, Drake Reeder, and Mike Watson.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Ford’s Chapel Methodist Church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, or Friends of Rescue, Inc.

A special thank you to Dr. Robert Bourge, Gina Horton and Meredith Miller. Thank you for all the extra time you allowed us to make memories with our precious Granny!

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