Remembering Former UND Law Professor Robert E. Beck 1937-2013

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School of Law


Robert E. Beck, Professor of Law Emeritus at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, died Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, in Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, at the age of 76.Professor Beck was born April 24, 1937, in Aitkin, Minn., to Ernest and Elna (Salmela) Beck and grew up in Palisade, Minn. He obtained a JB.S.L. in 1958, a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree in 1960 from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Law (LL.M.) degree in 1966 from New York University. From 1962 to 1976 he was an assistant professor and professor at the University of North Dakota School of Law. In 1976 he joined the SIU Carbondale law faculty and retired August 2002. After retirement, he continued to teach one course per academic year at SIU.

Over his career, Professor Beck wrote and lectured extensively on all aspects of natural resources law. He held offices and was a member of numerous committees and panels at the local, state, regional, national and international levels. He authored and co-authored chapters for, and served as editor-in-chief of, Waters and Water Rights, from 1991 through 2008.

Professor Beck was the recipient of various awards including The Order of the Coif (1960), The Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship (University of North Dakota, 1975), The Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Emeritus (University of North Dakota, 1987), SIU Law School Faculty Scholar of the Year (1995) and The Clyde O. Martz Teaching Award (Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, 2007).

An avid traveler, he traveled frequently to see family; his home and friends in Vail, Colorado; a favorite place, Santa Fe, New Mexico and numerous international destinations. He was a devoted advocate and active supporter of environ-mental preservation. He enjoyed a life-long passion for the visual arts and loved the opera.

Family and friends will remember him for his pleasant demeanor, dry sense of humor, encouragement, varied interests and knowledge, and most of all his devotion and thoughtfulness. He will be deeply missed by all.Professor Beck was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters in infancy, a sister, Violet Satterwhite; brothers, Jim and Stanley and one nephew.

Survivors include sisters-in-law, Esther Beck of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Velda Beck of Cloquet, Minn.; three nieces; two nephews; a great-niece; two great-nephews and an extended family of colleagues at SIU.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, in the Auditorium of the SIU School of Law, Carbondale.

Memorials may be made to Green Earth, Inc., P.O. Box 441, Carbondale, IL 62903 or to the SIU Foundation for the benefit of the School of Law Natural Resources Fund, MC 6805, 1150 Douglas Drive, Carbondale, 62901.