Dr. James Murray Beck, 96 of Lunenburg, died Thursday, June 30, 2011 in Drummond Hall, Halifax.
Born in Lunenburg, he was a son of Allan Clyde and Florence (Silver) Beck.
During the Second World War he was a radar mechanic and officer in Britain and on the continent with the R.C.A.F., attached R.A.F. and attached to U.S. Ninth Air Force. Educated at Lunenburg Academy, Acadia University, and the University of Toronto, he taught in the public schools in South Brookfield, Lawrencetown, and Guysborough, and in the veterans’ school in Windsor and Pictou. After receiving a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, he taught at Acadia, the Royal Military College of Canada, and for seventeen years in the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie.
Between 1967 and 1969, he acted as a constitutional advisor to the G.I. Smith government. He received honorary LL.D.s from Dalhousie, St. Francis Xavier, and the Royal Military College; was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1976; and became a member of the Order of Canada in 1993 and a fellow of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society in 2004. He was also awarded the Confederation of Canada Medal in 1992 and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.
The author of seven books and the editor of two others, he wrote “The Government of Nova Scotia”, “Pendulum of Power”, a two volume biography of Joseph Howe, the two volume “Politics of Nova Scotia”, and the “Evolution of Municipal Government in Nova Scotia”. He also wrote fifty biographies of Nova Scotians for the “Dictionary of Canadian Biography” and about fifty other articles and reviews on Canadian and Nova Scotia history and government. During his retirement he did considerable research and writing on Lunenburg’s historical development and completed a study of Lunenburg’s provincial and federal elections between 1758 and 1999.
For him, his seventeen years at Dalhousie were the highlight of his teaching career and he appreciated beyond words the recognition accorded him by Dalhousie community at the time of his retirement: honorary LL.D., Dalhousie Alumni teaching award (chosen by the student body in the first year of his establishment), status of professor emeritus, a Dalhousie gold “D”, and a Riggs painting from his own students.
In Lunenburg, he served on the board of directors of Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital and Harbour View Haven and assisted for a lengthy period with the Lunenburg Food Bank. A long -time elder of Central United Church, he devoted his last writing to articles on the church’s history.
He was predeceased by his sister Evelyn, Mrs. Graham Best, Waterville; and by his brother Donald. He is survived by nieces: Linda Lowther, Halifax; Heidi McHale, Penticton, B.C. and Katrina Beck, Istanbul, Turkey. For many years his friend Marie Lohnes was kindness itself.
Cremation has taken place. Funeral Arrangements are under the direction of the Dana L. Sweeny Funeral Home, 11213, Hwy. # 3, Lunenburg, and where a memorial service will be held Tuesday, July 5 at 2:00 p.m. with Rev. Glenn MacLean, a long-time family friend presiding. Burial will be at Hillcrest Cemetery. A reception will follow at the Dana L. Sweeny Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a charity of your choice. Special thanks to the nursing staff of Drummond Hall for the compassion and care given to Murray.