Obituary: Frederic ‘Fred’ Beck

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Longtime Malibu resident Frederic “Fred” Beck passed away Sept. 14 in his sleep.

Longtime Malibu resident Frederic “Fred” Beck passed away Sept. 14 in his sleep.

Beck was born in Seattle, Wash., on May 31, 1927 to Frederic and Neill Beck. He graduated from University High School in West Los Angeles and then was drafted into service, joining the Navy prior to the end of World War II.

He later attended UCLA on the GI Bill where he excelled in Track & Field and earned UCLA’s Most Valuable Distance Runner award in 1950. Fred also distinguished himself in journalism and student government. After graduating, Beck entered the media business and joined the field of national advertising, becoming one of the original West Coast “Mad Men” in the late ’50s and ’60s. Beck helped usher in the marriage of mainstream national advertisers with professional sports in American media so ubiquitous today.

Beck and his wife Nancy moved their family of four (soon to be five) to Malibu in 1958, where Beck and his fellow sailor/surfers helped define the California beach lifestyle we know today; building, sailing and racing Malibu outriggers. 

While working at Time/Life, Beck was recruited to be marketing director of the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho. Beck moved his family to Sun Valley where he developed a passion for skiing, fishing and hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains. Beck maintained his love for Idaho over the years, and frequently spent months there visiting dear friends, hiking and cycling. Beck had an oversized passion for both the ocean and the mountains.

Beck is survived by his wife Gaye, three sons, in-laws, five grandchildren and friends. He was a WWII veteran, loving husband, father, grandfather, athlete, journalist and craftsman. 

“His lust for life and Malibu helped usher in words that are now part of the modern culture vernacular,” a loved one said. “He was one of the original Southern California ‘watermen’ and America’s original ‘Mad Men,’ and without ever forgetting his family and friends, always managed to ‘live the dream.’”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Beck’s name to Saint Michaels Indian School, P.O. Box 650, St. Michaels, Ariz., 86511.