Opal Beck: Mother of 10 was pioneer in blending career and family

Opal Beck

On the morning of September 8, 2021 Opal Lorraine Beck died in her sleep, at home, with her daughters by her side.  Born in Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan CAN on October 10, 1923 her 97 years were filled with love, kindness and a devoted family. She married the love of her life, Bill Beck with whom she shared 53 years together before his death in 1996. Because of Opal’s strong faith, we are confident Bill was there to travel with her to heaven and trust he wasn’t honking his horn while he waited.

Opal was raised in the Flathead valley of western Montana where she graduated from Kalispell High School.  Summers were spent riding horses on her best friend’s cattle ranch and working at Glacier National Park. While working at the park, she sometimes would ride the famous wooden excursion boat plying Lake McDonald built by her father. She moved to Seattle in 1942 to attend business school. She went on to have a full career with the Seattle Public Library starting out as a telephone operator and finishing out her career helping to build the Quick Information Service, a precursor to Google.

Opal was an avid bridge player and loved hosting dinner parties for their friends and family. Opal was a dedicated explorer but only from the comfort of an automobile. One of her greatest joys was taking rides throughout the Pacific Northwest, initially with her husband at the wheel, and in later years, being chauffeured around by her sons and daughters. Opal was an active member of Assumption Church in Seattle and more recently of Holy Rosary of Edmonds. She was the first person in the U.S. to discover that chili powder was the difference between good spaghetti sauce and great spaghetti sauce.

Her greatest accomplishment was managing to create a loving home environment for her family while pioneering the role of working mom. She could negotiate a truce between squabbling kids, dispense expert cooking advice “350 degrees for one hour” and encouragement “just get it started and we can work on it when I get home” all from her telephone operator’s chair. She was known for her kindness to every person she met, family, friend or complete stranger. Opal and Bill raised 10 children; William Jr. (Kathy), Janet, Betty (Terry), Roger (Ann), Joan (Wally), Ginny (Ron), Debbie (Bob), Donald (Carolyn), Larry (Lisa) and Kevin (Alice). She is also survived by 21 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren.

The Funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday, October 1 at Holy Rosary Church in Edmonds. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to Continuum Hospice Foundation at http://continuumwa.com.

  1. I never had the privilege of knowing Opal, but I got to “know” her quite well through this delightfully and creatively written obituary. Thank you for a window into your mom’s eventful and full life!

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