WESTON, Ohio - James Beck, 66, a member of Weston Village Council and a former insurance company manager who spent decades in law enforcement, died of a heart attack Sunday in his home.
He was in his third four-year term on council, said Paul Perry, president of council.
Inspired by the Lake Erie islands, specifically Put-In-Bay and Kelleys Island, he helped champion an ordinance in 2004 to allow golf carts on Weston streets. The idea was that as village residents ran errands, they'd stop and visit with friends and get to know neighbors.
"He was really strong about that. He and I pushed that through," Mr. Perry said. "We're a very friendly community. It really worked [to] get the community together."
Mr. Beck traveled around town in his small, open-air utility vehicle, often giving away the tomatoes and zucchini he grew.
"We were best friends," Mr. Perry said. "He could talk to anybody. When you were down, he was there to pick you up. He was there for a lot of people."
Mr. Beck's heart problems caused him to take a medical disability about four years ago from Basic Financial Solutions, an insurance firm, of which he was state director for Ohio, his brother-in-law Rick Humes said.
Mr. Beck began his insurance career in 1979 with a predecessor firm, Harvest Insurance.
"Quickly he moved up to district manager and a little while later he became assistant state manager," said Mr. Humes, who worked for the same firm.
Mr. Beck also formerly worked for Bankers Life & Casualty.
"He loved to help people. That was the main objective," Mr. Humes said.
And he was good at selling, his brother Greg said.
"He had the gift of gab, and his stories wouldn't quit," his brother said. "When he went places, he could really spin a yarn."
Mr. Beck was a 1962 graduate of Stryker High School in Williams County and was employed about 10 years by the Aro Corp. in Bryan.
Encouraged by former Williams County Sheriff Denver Mock, he applied for an opening as a deputy, Mr. Beck's brother said.
Mr. Beck was on the dive team and was chief corrections officer for several years.
After he and his family moved to Wood County in the 1980s, he became a special deputy and served with the sheriff's auxiliary.
Mr. Beck was a member of the Bowling Green Fraternal Order of Police and he was a Mason.
He was a member of Weston Church of Christ.
"He was a man who knew what he wanted," his wife, Margie, said. "If he started something, he finished it. If he met a stranger, and that stranger was in need, he would help.
"One year at Christmas, we didn't have a whole lot, but we found a family in Weston who was in need," his wife said. "She had four children, and he went out and bought gifts for them, and we bought a ham and gave it to them."
He mowed lawns and plowed driveways and painted houses in the village, but "he would not accept money for anything," his son Eric said. "He was just a nice guy."
Mr. Beck was previously married to the former Paula Overbaugh.
Surviving are his wife, Marjorie, whom he married July 1, 1979; daughters, Robin Arneson and Amy Brown; sons, Tedd and Eric Beck and C. Jason Brown; sister, Judy Humes; brothers, Don and Greg Beck; seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. today in the Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home & Crematory, Bowling Green, where visitation will begin at 10 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to the American Heart Association or the Diabetes Foundation.