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