Joan's Story

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BREWER - Joan Marion (McKim) Beckford (85) died on October 7, 2015, at her residence at Woodlands Memory Loss Facility of Brewer, Maine. She died of declining health due to dementia after a long life of wonderful health. During her final days she was surrounded by songs, stories, classical music and loving care shared by her children, her grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as her many Woodland's caregivers. Memories of Joan brought tears and laughter and many visits by other residents as well as staff to her room. Quotes below are taken from a book length record Joan wrote of her life.

"I was born at home on Dresden Street, in Boston, MA, on January 21, 1930", to Martha (Wood) McKim and Daniel McKim, new immigrants to the US from Renton, Scotland. Joan grew up in Jamacia Plain with her four siblings, William, Elizabeth, Isobel, and Daniel McKim. She attended school, loved walking to the public library and swimming at public beaches, skating on Jamacia Pond, attending church, and visiting with relatives, particularly her aunts, Joan and Marion Wood. "I was named for these two aunts." Joan graduated from high school at the top of her class at age 16, and began her first job at Prudential Insurance Company, soon becoming the secretary to the office manager. "I loved to study and read." Evenings she continued her drive for knowledge, taking classes at Boston University. In 1948 she boarded a train for Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, where she thrived in her studies, her friendships, and singing and performing with the school choir.

Singing in the choir at Bolyston St. Congregational Church, she met her future husband Lewis H. Beckford, the organist and music director. They were married Oct. 8, 1949, and moved to York, Maine where Lewis began his ministry in the Methodist Church. "Marriage to Lew was a great "ride" he always encouraged me when I embarked on new ventures." Joan met many new friends in York and developed her love of lobsters and being near the ocean.

In 1950 they moved to Gorham where daughters Martha Anne and Nancy Elizabeth and son David Lewis were born. Joan volunteered with a Campfire Girls group and made dear friends at church and in the community.

The family moved to Bangor in 1955 where Lewis served the Grace Methodist Church. Joan taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and took care of their growing family. Her daughter, Rachel Joan, and son, Peter Daniel, were born while the family lived in Bangor. During those years Lewis urged Joan to take cello lessons and in later years she joined community orchestras. Joan and Lew bought a camp on Beech Hill Pond "partly to have a home of our own, that would be there, no matter where we were living." This became the summer home for the family. She really loved the sun, the water, blueberry picking, the simpler existence of no electricity and reading many books to the children and herself. She taught her children to play cribbage which became a lifelong favorite for them all.

A skilled seamstress, Joan made much of the clothing the children wore. She planned healthy meals and insisted that everyone come to the dinner table together. Cinnamon yeast rolls and gingersnap cookies are favorite Grammie recipes she passed on to her children and grandchildren, as well as the now traditional holiday cookie decorating parties she hosted for her children's friends.

When Lewis became a district superintendent in the Methodist Church, Joan packed the family up once move and moved to a different home in Bangor. In 1967 the family moved to Bath, ME, and in 1972 to So. Portland to serve other church pastorates. In Bath, Joan became a volunteer for the new Head Start program being held in one of the churches as well as serving as a Literacy Volunteer. When in So. Portland she returned to college attending USM and graduating in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She taught young children at the Westbrook College Children's Center and then taught ten years in the Kindergarten class on Peaks Island, going over to the school on the ferry each morning. "Teaching was a highlight. I loved working with children." After retirement she said, "I volunteered with the Volunteer Lawyer's Project and Pine Tree Legalmy best volunteer experience I was there 5 years." While in So. Portland she joined the Unitarian Universalist Church, pretty significant for the Methodist minister's wife!

"I've had lots of interesting experiences that stretched me and enabled me to broaden my horizons." Joan enjoyed traveling to England and Scotland to explore family history with Lewis, participating in Elder Hostel programs, exploring France and Holland with her daughter Nancy, volunteering for a year in St. George, Utah, at a hospice home, spending a year on the island of Nevis volunteering in schools with children, reading in Head Start programs to children, volunteering in Nancy's school classroom, reading on the radio for the visually impaired, and being a hospice volunteer. She took Senior College courses at the University of Maine at Bangor and Orono. "I would like to be remembered as a caring person-I feel close to those in need-I try to help-whatever the situation."

Joan moved to Bangor to be closer to her children after Lewis' death in Jan. 1998. She found many opportunities for volunteering, and when she began to understand the impact of her advancing dementia she moved to Dirigo Pines in Orono for support with her daily living needs. She remained active, joining the Dirigo Singers and making many new friends. In Nov. 2013 she moved to Woodlands to spend the rest of her life there. "I feel good about my life! I was privileged to be part of a secure loving family!"

Joan is survived by her sister Isobel McKim Johnson, her five children, Martha (and Don) Naber of Waterville, ME, Nancy Minott of Bucksport, ME, David Beckford of Charleston, So. Carolina, Rachel Beckford (and Don Wedlock) of Bangor, ME, and Peter (and Julie) Beckford of Clifton, ME. She will be remembered by her seven grandchildren, Jennifer, Elizabeth, Kristina, Emily, Simon, Ursa, and Eliza and three great grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Penelope and Lane. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Joan donated her body to UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine. A memorial service and gathering will be held at a future date. Donations in Joan's memory may be made to the charity of your choice.
Published on  October 12, 2015
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