The Rev. Aelred J. Beck, O.S.B., a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, died Monday, February 25. He was 79 years old.
Father Aelred was born on September 10, 1922, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of the late Eugene and Amelia (Geimer) Beck, and was one of six children. He attended Saint Boniface Parochial School in Pittsburgh, and Saint Vincent Preparatory School in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Saint Vincent College in 1945 and a master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 1954. He also received a master of education degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1954, and did advanced study at Harvard University’s Institute of College Administrators.
Father Aelred entered the Saint Vincent monastic community in 1942, making simple profession of vows on July 2, 1943, and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 1946. He was ordained a priest on June 13, 1948.
Father Aelred worked mainly in the Saint Vincent educational apostolates, beginning as a prefect and teacher in the preparatory school and the college. In 1954 he was named dean of the college, at 32 years of age the youngest dean until that time. He held that position for eleven years, overseeing one of the college’s largest increases in student enrollment and the initiation of several new academic programs. In 1965 he was appointed Director of Development and Alumni. In his two years in that position he helped to establish several new alumni chapters in the United States and to design an alumni directory and quarterly alumni magazine. In commenting on Father Aelred’s service, Saint Vincent College President James Will said, “Father Aelred holds a special place in the history of Saint Vincent College. He served the College for many years as a Professor of English, Academic Dean — one of the youngest academic dean’s in the country at that time — and finally as Director of Development and Alumni, leading one of our first major fund raising campaigns. He was an innovator who introduced many new programs to the College that helped students achieve their educational goals. He was also a great storyteller who always had an interesting story or joke appropriate for any occasion. We honored Father Aelred in 1985 with a Distinguished Alumnus Award. He will be greatly missed by the entire Saint Vincent College family.”
From 1967 to 1977 Father Aelred served at Benedictine Military High School in Savannah, Georgia. He was prior of the monastery and headmaster of the school, and under his leadership the size of the student body nearly doubled.
In 1977 Father Aelred was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Youngstown, Pennsylvania. He held this position until 1998, when he was named senior priest, and during his nearly twenty years the parish grew and blossomed. He retired to the Archabbey for health reasons in 1999.
In addition to his parents, Father Aelred is preceded in death by a brother, Eugene. He is survived by two brothers, Charles of Allison Park, and Robert of Ingomar; and two sisters, Rita Best of Wexford, and Mary Kinzler of Orlando, Florida.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Benedictine Health and Welfare Fund at Saint Vincent Archabbey, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, Pennsylvania 15650-2690.