Mabel M. Beckman: Biography

Mabel Meinzer Beckman was born on December 20, 1900, in Brooklyn, NY. She had an older brother, Walter, and a younger brother, Charlie. Her mother, Alice, was from Ireland having immigrated to the U.S. from Castlecomer, a small mining town in County Kilkenny, with her sister Katie. Her father was from New Jersey.

Mabel Beckman went to elementary school and high school on Long Island and entered Pratt Institute hoping to study art. She spent one year at Pratt and then got a job as an executive secretary at an insurance company.

On Thanksgiving Day 1918 as the first World War was ending, Mabel met Arnold Beckman at the U.S.O. She belonged to the Red Cross and she and her mother were feeding servicemen a Thanksgiving dinner. Arnold Beckman was a marine stationed at the Brooklyn navy shipyard.

After meeting each other, Arnold and Mabel wrote back and forth for seven years. Arnold Beckman went home to Illinois to enter the University of Illinois to get his degree in chemical engineering. He accomplished both bachelors and masters degrees and graduated in 1922 from the University of Illinois.

In 1925, the two were married in Bayside, Long Island, NY in the Episcopal church where Mabel had attended Sunday school and had been confirmed.

After marrying, the couple lived in NY while Arnold worked for Bell Telephone Laboratory. In 1926 they drove out to California in a Model T Ford. Dr. Beckman entered Caltech in Pasadena, completing his Ph.D. in 1928. They rented a small house in Pasadena.

In 1933 a house was built in Altadena. The children arrived and from this point on Mrs. Beckman was wife and mother.

On a more personal note, Mabel Beckman had several interests, two of which she pursued all her life, hand work and cooking.

She sewed, crocheted, knitted and embroidered both clothing and articles for the house. In her later years she did a great deal of needlepoint while watching TV.

As a young adult, Mrs. Beckman liked to draw and did some oil painting using photographs and picture postcards as subjects.

She loved to cook and was a good cook, collecting recipes and trying out new dishes. She was also very aware of good nutrition and took time to balance the family diet long before these ideas were popular.

Mrs. Beckman enjoyed collecting and had two notable collections: one of porcelain birds and another of small wooden elephants. She collected Irish Balleck on her travels and indulged herself in her love of jewelry.

Mabel Beckman enjoyed shopping and while traveling bought many small gifts to give to friends and family. She also liked shopping for clothes and had good taste in her selections.

She followed politics very closely and remained a conservative Republican all her life, being very loyal and patriotic to her beliefs.

Finally, although Mrs. Beckman was not a joiner, she did belong to the Caltech Woman's Club after Arnold Beckman joined the faculty at Caltech. She also belonged to the Beckman Instruments Women's Club.

Mrs. Beckman passed away in June 1989. She is buried next to her husband in Cullom, Illinois.