OBITUARY: Emil Bryan Beck

by Jul 26, 2023OBITUARIES0 comments

Nov. 10, 1962 to July 5, 2023

Emil Bryan Beck was born in Owosso, Mich. His family moved to Roscommon, Mich. while he was in elementary school and then to Cherokee, N.C. in 1976 to help run his maternal grandparents’ Piney Grove Campground in the Smoky Mountains. He was an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He graduated from Cherokee High School in 1982 and then joined the U.S. Coast Guard.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Annalise Beck; mother, Frela Owl Beck; sister, Amy (Gene) Thompson; nephew, Clifford and Austin Thompson; aunt, Carol Havig; mother-in-law, Mary Lou Dickey; brothers-in-law, Mark and Brien Dickey; cousins, Bruce (Patricia) Beck, Ben (Judy) Melquist, Tiana (Norman Stolzoff) Melquist, Debra (Gary) Hacker, David (Leta) Leggitt; and many Beck family and Owl family relatives.

He was preceded in death by his father, George Steffen Beck; uncles, Clifford (Joyce) Beck, Fritz Beck, and Leif Havig; aunts, Ruth Honore, Mary (Dean) Melquist; four grandparents; and his father-in-law Leonard Dickey.

Emil reported to Coast Guard Basic Training in Cape May, N.J. in June 1982. He served 23 years, with 14 of those years at sea. He has been to 68 countries and experienced many things that few people have, such as sailing on the Barque Eagle tall ship and two trips to Antarctica on an ice breaker.

While at the Pacific Strike Team, key deployments were 9-11 response in New York (2001) and Hurricane Katrina response in Louisiana (2005). After he retired in November 2005, he worked for GPC A Joint Venture on a contract to maintain the Coast Guard’s environmental response equipment. During that time, he traveled extensively and spent 11 months in Alabama after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010). He faced health challenges in recent years and has enjoyed volunteering as a bicycle mechanic at the Bicycle Co-Op of Williamsburg for the past 12 months.

He was a big guy with a big personality and lots of stories. He loved music and movies and was infinitely curious. He recently said that he had seen the world, lived a great life, and had no regrets. Emil died peacefully at home in Newport News, Va.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made in his memory to: The USO (, Bicycle Co-Op of Williamsburg (, a Native American charity such as the Native American Rights Fund (, or a local food bank.

A Celebration of Life will be held in Virginia at a later date, then services will be held in Cherokee, N.C. with burial of cremains at the Yellowhill Veterans Cemetery.