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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Colleagues mourn Beck's unexpected death


Several Republican lawmakers rushed over to the Embassy Suites on Wednesday after hearing about the death of state Rep. Warren Beck.
Beck, 65, was found dead on Wednesday at the hotel. While foul play is not suspected, an investigation is being conducted, according to an e-mail from the Alabama House of Representatives.
Beck, the former mayor of Geneva, was elected to the House of Representatives in 2002 to represent Geneva County and southern Dale County.
Rep. Joe Faust, R-Fairhope, sat beside Beck in the back of the House chamber for eight years and the men had offices across from each other in the State House. He was emotional as he talked about his colleague and his "best buddy" in the Legislature.
"I dread in the morning," Faust said of sitting in the House chamber next to Beck's empty chair.
Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, added "it will be tough with that vacant seat."
"I just can't believe it," said Rep. Harry Shiver, R-Bay Minette.
Shiver said he spent time with Beck on Tuesday and would get up at 3 a.m. to drive hours to eat breakfast with Beck.
"He was the kind of guy you would drive three hours for," he said.
Faust, Beck and other lawmakers who sat nearby would often joke with each other and those speaking at the podium.
Because Beck often joked in the chamber and during committee meetings, Faust said some people thought he was carefree.
"He wasn't. He really had a heart for what he was doing," he said.
When considering serious legislation, Faust said Beck gave serious thought to the issues.
Beck recently announced that he was one of a few Republicans who would support legislation to let people vote on whether they wanted to tax and regulate electronic bingo in the state.
The lawmakers said Beck still preferred to be referred to as mayor.
"He loved being called mayor of Geneva," Baker said.
Beck, who was involved in the insurance industry, had two children and four grandchildren, according to the Web site for the House of Representatives.
Faust and his wife, Sharon, said Beck had lost two wives and had married his high school sweetheart in the last year.
"Everybody loved Warren Beck," Faust said. "He was one good guy. In my opinion, he's just as good as gold."
Baker said they learned about the death from a clerk while they were in a committee meeting at the State House. They arrived as the body was being removed from the hotel.
Beck, according to his colleagues, had called in a prescription for cough syrup and had skipped a reception on Tuesday night to rest.
Faust said Beck was found with his hands on his chest.
Shiver said they usually stayed at the Drury Inn, but that Beck was staying at the Embassy Suites this week because the Alabama Federation of Republican Women was hosting an event at the hotel.
Faust and his wife, who is participating in the event, were staying there.
Sharon Faust said she last saw Beck in the hotel about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. She said her husband had a special relationship with Beck.
At least three other legislators have died unexpectedly during the current four-year legislative term including Rep. Lea Fite, D-Jacksonville; Rep. Albert Hall, D-Gurley; and Sen. Pat Lindsey, D-Butler.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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