What a life! I love you momma. With a profound sense of loss, I write your obituary. I’ve come to realize only those that really matter already know; you know who they are!
Charleen (Wooten) Beck was born to the union of Charles and Roberta J. (Stauber) Wooten on September 8, 1934, in Cheyenne, Oklahoma.
She was preceded in passing at 89 years old by almost everyone … most notably her son Charles Gene “Chucky” Beck; her parents; Grandfather Stauber, “the only man that never angered or disappointed her”; her husband Richard Daniel “Dicky Dan” Beck; a sister Katherine Louise Wooten VanDyne; and her daughter-in-love, Melissa of our home. She is survived by a brother, H.L. “Red” Wooten; a brother and sister-in-law, Larry and Suzanne; and beloved nieces and nephews.
She was a wonderful mother, instilling independence and curiosity of the natural world and the importance of family, friends, and laughter. She volunteered and accepted requests for help when no one else would. Be it school, church, Scouts, or extracurricular activities, she encouraged Chucky and I to catch, keep, observe, and release all manner of bugs, reptiles, amphibians, and animals, even keeping skunks and racoons as house pets. With her we picked berries, nuts, fruits, and gardened with knowledge and confidence, always with the world under our bare feet whenever possible.
After a months-long bout with despair, depression, guilt, and sorrow upon my brother’s death, only with faith in God, she recovered and vowed to never fall back in that trap again for anyone or any reason. She felt loss and sorrow after that, but just for a minute, choosing memories of love, joy and laughter of those she held dear. After her husband’s retirement she embarked on her own career. Dad put her through computer school and, to her amazement, graduated second in her class. Within months of her first job, she was managing operations of two retail stores. On her own time, she sold hundreds of Apple II computers to school districts in the KC metro area. She held a strong sense of civic pride and duty and loved our republic, the Constitution, and encouraged everyone to participate in our democratic process. She registered hundreds of voters and traveled thousands of miles to make sure those who wanted to vote could make it to the polls, no matter their politics.
After Melissa and I moved to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mom and Dad would vacation there. Mom fell in love with the sea, culture, people, and the cosmopolitan atmosphere. After two years of not receiving her promised commissions for sales to the school districts, she quit Bottom Line Computers and she and Dad left for vacation to St. Croix. She told my Dad, “I know you don’t want to stay on St. Croix full time, but it’s where I’m meant to be.”
Dad split his time, staying in St. Croix during the winter. Momma never looked back. Charleen found as much success there as she did state side. For over 25 years, she held at least one full-time job and one or two part-time jobs. She kept books and managed an import/export tire business five and a half days a week. She reveled in being the tire lady of St. Croix! Well into her late 70s, she would lace tires on a pickup or one-ton flatbed and deliver them to the port for shipment down island.
Charleen loved to work and make money so she could enjoy her generous and playful lifestyle. She loved to share what she had found on St. Croix with family and friends. If you came to visit, she would point you in the right direction for adventure or you could hang out and enjoy the weather. She was a serious little lady on a mission. After work you had her undivided attention and if things were slow, maybe an extra afternoon or all-day Saturday. Sundays were off limits for work. Her friends and coworkers were diverse, unique, and shared her honesty, work ethic, and joy for life. She always wound down at the end of the day with her friends close to the seaside or the beach. Charleen loved to swim and was known here for her ability to lay back and float on the water in the pool or at the lake. In the sea she could float and barely get wet.
Hurricane Maria destroyed her premises and all her belongings on September 19, 2017. After a full year of health concerns, I was finally able to bring her home to Windsor in mid-December, 2017. She was not happy, but coming home was past due … thank you, Maria.
She missed living as she pleased. Her independent spirit would not allow it. Both sides of the family made it bearable for her. Four of five family members would take turns, keeping her at a pace she had previously kept for herself. Mom loved Windsor, the people, and our home. Until Covid, she walked to town every day for coffee, conversation, and hopefully a few chuckles with friends.
Thank you, Momma, for sharing my first breath; thank you for sharing with me your last.
For an extended family, a spring celebration will be held so arrangements can be made for travel. In lieu of a memorial fund, I know she would rather your generosity be spent on those you love, building memories of joy and laughter.