Unsung Hero #121

Shortly before completing his residency in New Haven, David Beck chatted with a colleague about next steps. The other man mentioned that Dr. Thomas Kantor was selling his practice in Westport.

That’s how Dr. Beck ended up here.

He’s now 92. Tomorrow — after 60 years in internal medicine — he retires.

The Bronx High School of Science graduate served for nearly 3 years in the Palau Islands as a Coast Guard pharmacy mate, during World War II. He headed to Long Island University, then earned his medical degree from Albany Medical College in 1954.

Dr. Beck helped start Norwalk Hospital’s dialysis unit. But most Westporters know him from his long practice in Westport.

Dr. David Beck (Photo/Laura King)

He spent his first 55 years at 44 Elm Street. Five years ago, when Bedford Square was built on that site, he moved to 175 Post Road West, across from Dragone Classic Motorworks.

Dr. Beck has seen some of his patients for half a century. Incredibly, a few are a decade older than he.

“He’s an old-fashioned doctor,” praises Laura King, his medical assistant for 17 years (and the only other person in his office).

“He’s a great listener. He spends 45 minutes with each patient, no matter what. I’m so blessed to have been with him for all these years.”

Dr. Beck is a quiet, modest man. He does not want a party, or any fuss made as he retires from his long, beloved profession.

So we’ll just call him an Unsung Hero, say thank you, wish him all the best, and leave it at that.

(Hat tip: Carl Leaman. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

15 responses to “Unsung Hero #121

  1. I’d like to mention Dr Victor Oliver, who lives on Center Street. He was my dentist from 1968 until 2018! He gave me 50 years of great dental service. I used to come up from Florida for dental appointments! I know this has nothing to do with this posting, but I hope you don’t mind mentioning this Westport icon.

  2. Oh, Dr. Beck (AKA “Dave” to us) has been our next-door neighbor on Roseville Road since around 1968. There is NO one who could have been a better neighbor! He would drop in to see my dad (the author-illustrator Hardie Gramatky) when he had cancer and then to see my mom (Doppy Gramatky) when she got dementia. And for the 23 years Ken and I lived in the house, we always stayed in close touch to Dave, and have come out for lunch with him and Laura King since we moved to NJ. I love Dr. Beck’s deep faith, his willingness to help anyone, his great stories, his sense of humor. Happy Retirement, Dave! You’ve earned it. See you soon. Love, Linda & Ken

  3. Vivianne Pommier

    My father, Dr Charles Pommier, held him in the highest regard.
    Happy Birthday

    • Mary Schmerker

      Also, not to detract from Dr. Beck and whishing him a happy retirement and thanking him for his caring for so many for so long, seeing Dr. Pommier’s name brings up other memories of very caring professionals that we were fortunate to have in Westport.
      Every time I would see a post by Vivianne I would wonder…is she related to…….and now I know! Side note: Your wonderful dad had to repair my brother’s braces so many times! As a catcher for the Jets in Little league he would throw off his mask to make a play and the retainer would fly out of his mouth and have to go back in for repairs. If my memory serves me, repairs were free. Corky had gorgeous teeth.

  4. Kendall B Smith

    I’m going to second what my wife said: living next door to Dr. Beck was a real treat. He found the Westport house through his friend Atty. Colin Gunn, a good friend of the homeowner Frances (Mrs. Cornelius) Steers. He bought it in the 60s with the idea that Frances could live there until her death (which happened in 1968 when she was age 94). So he made deep roots in Westport. Back in the 70s, Dave and my father-in-law would ride their tractors around the back property and then stop to chat and chat. Hardie and Doppy loved him as much as we did! I remember when he came to a neighborhood party to welcome the Sydors to the Victorian house across the street. Everyone always admired Dave, and my friend Bill Myers often reminded me how long he’d been a patient of Dr. Beck’s. Hope your retirement is special, Dave!

  5. Wonderful man, doctor and friend to all he met. Dr. Beck took care of my dad for many years, and made house calls when my dad was unable to get to his office. Blessings as you retire and thank you for your dedication.

  6. Wonderful doctor and a fantastic human being. My parents were patients from day one. And he has looked out for me since the early 70’s. Enjoy your retirement Dave and thanks for all the laughs and memories.

  7. Dale Eyerly Colson

    “Doctor Dave” has been my expert and excellent doctor, my buddy, my confidant, and my adequate adult supervision for 60 years. I love this wonderful man to the moon and back!
    Enjoy your well-earned retirement, dear and faithful friend.

  8. Louise W Demakis

    Dr. Beck has been George’s and my doctor since 1977. He has been our mainstay over these many years–a wonderful doctor, a caring friend, and a delightful gentleman. Happy Retirement to our Hometown Hero.
    Louise & George Demakis

  9. My family doctor(de Santis family) when I was growing up in late 50’s early 60’s – helped soothe my feelings after the death of my sister – a gesture I have never forgotten – may he enjoy his retirement – I send him my best wishes, much affection – Midge de Santis

  10. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70 BA, MA, JDE

    Dr. Beck was my mother’s last “family doctor” back when there was such a thing. He soothed her anxieties as she transitioned from independent mental clarity into fully dependent dementia and we took over her care. I had no idea he was still living. What a treasure to all who knew him!!!

    Dan, as someone who has lived in Westport and received healthcare from the “Golden Age” of Lebhar, Lynch, Beinfield, Hughes, Shiller, Nestor, Beck, Beasley, (there’s no waaay I’ve mentioned all of them) to the present, I’d be very interested in your observations as to how current reality of personal health care stacks up. It would be a great topic for discussion on this forum especially as healthcare emerges as a human right. When I was a child, my single mom and her two kids never wanted for the best of care. She paid cash and if there wasn’t enough of that, there wasn’t one doctor who wouldn’t work with her. I was at Norwalk Hospital at 12 in 1964 for an emergency appendectomy and the whole thing from soup to nuts was not over $750 which my mother paid for on the installment plan. I saw the bill.

  11. As my brother Dave mentioned above Dr, Beck was my parent’s physician forever. My mom was in the hospital with a fractured back and Dr. Beck just stopped in to say hello. He asked how she hurt her back and she said she, nor the doctor’s had any idea. They talked as old friends and because he took the time to listen, he discovered the reason for the back. During their conversation she mentioned the window in her bedroom was always getting such and was a pain to open. He looked at her and said I’m sure that you hurt your back opening that window. Listening is not something they teach in med school. And with time limits for visits placed on docs by their employers not many docs listen to what their patients have to say. The group of doctors mentioned in the comment above, I know from experience, listened.

  12. Jean Whitehead

    Adding my appreciation to those above. Dr. Beck took great care of our family, particularly my late parents. He was funny and wise, in addition to being such a good physician….And yes, he would make house calls for my mother when she was frail, which was such a gift. When my father’s dementia changed his personality, not so much for the better, Dr. Beck didn’t seem challenged by it. I always appreciated, so much, the kindness he showed to my parents. All best wishes to a true gentleman, from the Mercier family

  13. My husband’s doctor for decades. He loved Dr. Beck and swore by his judgement.

  14. Donald G. Hill

    When the book is written about certain people who experience great success in life,through “The Power of Humility” David will be on the first page! I love this man. Don Hill,Misquamicut Beach,RI