HELLO, OCALA! Meet Your Neighbors: Ed and Rene Beck
Ed and Rene Beck pose by a large family tree in their On Top of the World home in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. The couple will be celebrating their 70th anniversary in March. The have three sons, 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren with the 14th on the way. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.
In 1952, after he met a girl at a roller-skating rink, Ed Beck went home and told his sister he had met the girl he was going to marry.
Their first date was between Christmas and New Year’s and, on Jan. 10, 1953, Ed gave Rene an engagement ring. They were married three months later, on March 14. In March, they will celebrate their 70th anniversary.
They said recently that people told them it “would never last because we didn’t know each other long enough, but we sure fooled them.”
“God has blessed me with 70 years with this lady,” said Ed, to which Rene quickly added, “It is a two-way street.”
“This marriage is a God thing,” Ed continued. “I lived in Orlando and was just out of the service. She is from a small town in Pennsylvania that nobody ever heard of. The only way we could have gotten together in a skating rink in Orlando had to be God’s plan.”
Rene was born and raised in Sligo, Pennsylvania. Her family moved to Orlando in 1952. Ed was born in Miami but lived with his family most of his life in Orlando. He was in the United States Air Force from 1948 to 1952, serving in the Philippines.
Ed had a radio and TV repair business, then worked for Lockheed Martin for 32 years. He has been retired for 34 years. After retirement, he had a mobile locksmith business.
Rene worked at Southern Bell and then at First Federal Savings and Loan in Orlando. She retired from there in 1990 as retirement services administrator. In addition, she worked for H&R Block for eight tax seasons.
When they fully retired, the couple moved to the On Top of The World community in Ocala. They like that it is smaller than Orlando and they are “out of the Disney World traffic.”
Rene said they chose Ocala and their home for five reasons: It is in the center of the state so is less prone to hurricane damage; their home is of cement block construction, which they feel is safer; there are security gates at the OTOW community; there is lawn maintenance so when they travel they don’t have to worry about lawn upkeep; and there is a golf course where you can own your own golf cart.
When they first moved to Ocala, Rene said that Ed wouldn’t let her drive alone on the two-lane main road (State Road 200) to go to the mall in case she had car trouble and there would be nobody nearby to help her in the farm country. The road size, demographics and traffic have certainly changed since they came here, they commented.
“I lived in a town in Pennsylvania that had about 900 residents,” Rene said, adding that she has recently heard that just the community they live in has about 10,000 residents.
The couple enjoyed golf for many years and have golfed in 48 states and in Canada. They both said their favorite place was Pebble Beach, California, which was “absolutely beautiful.”
The two have traveled 39,500 miles in their recreational vehicle and have visited many historical sites and national parks. They also have enjoyed taking many tours throughout the nation, including at the White House.
“We love tours,” Rene enthused. “Transportation is furnished, and a guide explains all of the features of the venue. You see so much more. There is so much beautiful country in this land.”
After so much traveling, they parked their RV in a campground in Boone, North Carolina, and spent 10 summers there enjoying golf and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Ed’s golf game began to suffer when he developed a problem with his hands, which required several surgeries, and he can no longer grip a golf club. Rene stopped golfing when Ed did.
They both remain active in their community and their church. They were members at First Baptist Church in Ocala for 17 years and have been members at College Road Baptist Church since 2008. Ed has been an usher for a number of years and Rene is still Sunday school secretary/treasurer, in charge of the group’s online prayer chain, which has 148 members. She was chairperson of church décor for many years and still coordinates the senior Sunday school monthly lunches, for which she obtains speakers.
Ed’s hobby is collecting N-gauge trains. Rene creates scarves and necklaces in fiber art design. She also is the coordinator of a weekly craft show at OTOW, which currently has 50 tables of vendors.
“There is a good turnout every week,” she says.
She has also worked with stained glass and has one of her beautiful creations hanging in the front window of their home. She also sells her crafts at other local craft shows.
There is a Genealogy Society at OTOW and Rene said she worked on her genealogy for 10 years.
“One thing I have enjoyed is proving my ancestry,” she said.
She is a past member of the Daughters of the American Revolution organization.
Rene has a sister in Lake County. She and Ed both had siblings who are deceased. The couple has three sons, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Two more great- grandchildren are “on the way.”
In celebration of Ed and Rene’s upcoming anniversary, a family luncheon is planned on March 11 with about 45 family members attending.