Obituary: Bob Beck

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Grizzled, handsome, locally esteemed and internationally recognizable Camel and Marlboro man Bob Beck died at home Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008, after a difficult battle with cancer. Soft-spoken, gentle-souled Beck, so different in persona from the rough-hewn Indiana-Jones type character that would and often did “walk a mile for a Camel” through the most harrowing elemental obstacles, seldom showed impatience and temper in his post-camera life except over two subjects — protecting the habitat that we share with fellow species, and what he perceived as the hubris and disregard of the current Bush administration for the care and wellbeing of its citizenry.

Said Beck, regarding our shared-planet responsibility, “You have to protect your resources, especially here [in Idyllwild] where we rely upon what comes from the sky. People who don’t care about their environment and the animals are greedy and self-serving. It would be a happier Idyllwild and world if people cared about such things. I really strongly believe if a person loves, respects and takes care of animals — which I put myself on equal footing with, I’m no better or worse than they are — they will respect those around them more. Those who mistreat and don’t respect animals will do the same thing with everything else around them.”

About the second Bush family presidency, Beck fumed, “I’m definitely for any government that takes care of its people and the environment, and cares. But politicians usually like to keep the power and control so that philosophy is usually fiction. But it’s what I’d like. People will disagree, which is part of being in a free society, but I’m definitely opposed to the [George W.] Bush administration. What they’ve tried to do is criminal and self-serving; they don’t have the environment or people at heart. Bush seems to only care about serving corporations’ needs, not serving humankind domestically or internationally.”

Beck was a trusted good friend and neighbor of this writer. In 2003, at the height of the bark beetle crisis when this writer had to remove scores of beetle-ravaged grandfather pines removed from his property, Beck called to offer condolences, gently understanding the sadness that came with the loss of strong, silent and seemingly indestructible friends that had weathered so many years — understanding that life, important and valuable, had passed.

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