Axtell gives Walking Stick Award
Leslie, DeEsta Beck honored for goodness,
faith and unconditional love
By Rhett Wilkinson
CENTERFIELD—When DeEsta Beck was working as a waitress at Dee’s Restaurant in Salt Lake City, while attending LDS Business College, she was “surprised” by Leslie Beck’s interest in her.
“I don’t know how else to put that. I was like ‘Oh, OK,’” she said. “He was more interested in me. I was more interested in my job at the time, trying to keep up.”
The Becks have now been married for 49 years and have six children, 16 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, with a fourth scheduled to be born in December.
DeEsta had one word for why they have nearly reached the half-century mark.
“Patience,” she said. “Besides the normal caring-and-love thing, patience.”
When it comes to life outside of their marriage, “service” is a word that can be applied to the Becks. On July 24, they were awarded the Axtell Walking Stick for dedication to helping their community.
“It was a complete surprise. I didn’t expect it,” Leslie said. “I just wanted to get up the mountains (for the annual Axtell community picnic), so I thought that was an opportunity to go … Because of the virus, there was hardly anybody there. But those that could come…they made a good effort.
“I’m glad that my daughter and her husband and family were able to take us up there,” he added. “I enjoyed that very much.”
Leslie had different thoughts about meeting DeEsta. Seeing her at Dee’s as “love at first sight,” he said.
After their marriage, Leslie continued working as a welder in the Salt Lake City area for about three years. “I worked for 20 years (in Salt Lake), but Salt Lake was growing too fast for me and I was a country boy,” Leslie said.
In the transition of moving from Salt Lake City to Gunnison, Leslie worked at Cox Construction, where he helped on I-70.
The couple lived in Gunnison for about six years. Then they moved to Centerfield, to “family-oriented land,” as DeEsta described it. “It was a big change for me.”
But DeEsta said she has “loved” living in Centerfield.
Leslie views Centerfield as his home town. “I’m more connected with Centerfield than I am with Gunnison,” he said.
After returning to Sanpete County, Leslie was a farmer for at least 30 years. He bought part of his family’s farm. He also fed cows at a dairy in the area. DeEsta, who is from Boise, babysat and worked in sewing in Richfield and Manti.
Now, the couple has lived in the Gunnison Valley for more than 40 years, DeEsta said.
Besides being right by Leslie’s side driving the farm truck, DeEsta brought warm egg sandwiches to her husband in the winter and watermelon and ice cold water in the summer, while Leslie was working at a dairy feeding cows.
Carilee Sorenson, a daughter of the Becks, read a tribute to her parents at the walking stick award ceremony.
“Mom has always had a strong moral compass,” she said. “She loves being around her family and treasures special moments created at family gatherings. She also enjoys passing her memories and many talents on to her children and grandchildren.
“Dad has always had a strong work ethic and has used his experience at the farm and the dairy to teach his children to work hard at anything they desire,” Carilee added.
“He has cherished beautiful scenery and being in the great outdoors. He enjoys doing genealogy, and preparing and sharing his life history and those of his ancestors with his children and grandchildren. Dad has also been a diligent (Latter-day Saint) home teacher.”
DeEsta Beck described Boise, where she grew up, as “busy.”
“It was busy even back then and then it’s gotten so much bigger,” she said. But she described Boise as “nice” and good.”
Her father owned his own janitorial business and DeEsta and her brother and three sisters “were part of the crew.” They got as early as 4 a.m. to clean everything from office buildings to insurance companies and department stores. They even mowed some of the lawns in the summer.
“The reward was doughnuts,” she said.
The event where the Becks got the walking stick took place at Anthony’s Flat Campground in Willow Creek Canyon, with attendees bringing their own picnics and exercising social distancing. Bishop Russell Otten of the Axtell Ward presented the award.
The Axtell Walking Stick is coordinated by the ward. Parts of the ward include Centerfield. That made the Becks eligible for the award.