Theodore A. Beck
"I learned a lot from Dr. Beck"
Theodore A. “Ted” Beck taught and composed music for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for more than 50 years and is remembered as a quiet and humble man who had a wry sense of humor and was a demanding but kind teacher.
Ted, who died in 2003 at the age of 74, taught music at Concordia Teachers College (which became Concordia University in 1998) in Seward, Nebraska, from 1953 until his full retirement in 2001. He also composed many pieces for organ as well as for church choirs. He taught at Concordia Teachers College (now Concordia University-Chicago) in River Forest, Ill., from 1950-1953.
In 1997 Concordia-Nebraska honored him with a "Beckfest" weekend celebration of his work, which brought back to campus many of his former students, shortly before his retirement from full-time teaching. He taught part-time for the next four years.
Beck was born in Oak Park, Ill., on April 17, 1929, the youngest child of Albert and Esther Wetzel Beck, both musicians. Albert was a professor of music at Concordia Teachers College in River Forest from 1914 until his death in 1962.
Ted attended Grace Lutheran School and then Concordia High School in River Forest, where as a freshman in 1942 he met Carol Janice Schall, the girl who would become his wife in August 1950. Carol died in 2002 at the age of 73.
After graduation from Concordia Teachers College in River Forest in 1950, Ted was an instructor in organ at the college, working on the music faculty with his father. Ted earned a master's degree from Northwestern University in 1952.
In 1953, Ted received a call to teach at Concordia Teachers College in Seward. He accepted, and he, Carol and infant son Tobin moved to Seward. Ted continued his graduate education while teaching and earned his Ph.D. in music theory and composition from Northwestern in 1961. Daughter Tedi and son Kevin were born in Seward.
Ted touched many lives through music in service to his Lord. He found great joy in composing, and even greater joy in teaching and in the accomplishments of his students. A quote from one of his students, recorded in the 1997-98 Concordia annual “The Tower", expresses the thoughts of many of Ted’s students over the years: “I learned a lot from Dr. Beck.”