Reverend Herbert J. Beecken
April 20, 1923-February 28, 2019
Reverend Herbert John Beecken was born in Black Creek, Wisconsin on April 20, 1923. He graduated from Elmhurst College, in Elmhurst, IL and in 1944 and from Eden Seminary, in St. Louis, MO in 1946. In 1946 he married Dorothy May Prell. They had four children: Tim, Tom, Debby, and Dave. Dave passed away in March 2019 due to cancer.
In 1946 Rev. Beecken attended Yale University in order to study Chinese before going to China as mission personnel, serving with the United Church Board for World Ministries (UCBWM) a predecessor mission body of what is today Global Ministries. In 1948 he and Dorothy returned to the United States where he served as pastor of a church in Bath, Pennsylvania for one year. In 1950, he and Dorothy moved to the town of Annaka in Gumma, Japan to serve again with the UCBWM as mission co-workers. Other than a year spent in Kyoto studying Japanese and an occasional furlough in the United States, Rev. Beecken lived in Annaka where he did the majority of his work. He taught English at Niijima Christian Junior and Senior High School and held Bible classes in his home. Over the course of several years, he took several dozen groups of his high school students on cultural exchange/home stay trips to the United States. He also preached at numerous churches throughout Gunma Prefecture and presented biblical slide shows in various homes throughout the community. These are only a few ways in which he served in his ministry.
In July of 1979 Dorothy Beecken died of cancer. The following year, Rev. Beecken married Kei Uzaki, a Japanese widow. She had two boys, Hajime and Hisashi. Rev. Beecken retired officially in 1988 but continued to live and be involved in his community in Japan until his death.
Rev. Beecken passed away on February 28, 2019, surrounded by members of his family. A “night-before” or “viewing” ceremony was held on March 8 and the official funeral was held the following day. Both ceremonies were attended by more than 400 people.
At the funeral service, Tim Beecken, his son, gave a short speech in Japanese. The following is a rough translation of the speech: I came to Japan two days ago as a representative of Rev. Beecken’s American family. During his life, my father had a positive influence on many people. He was loved and respected by many people, proof of which is in the number of people who have come here today. My father enjoyed adventure, as seen in his going to China where he knew nobody and his move to Japan where he knew neither any people nor the language. He enjoyed the adventure of mountain climbing, hiking and traveling to many countries. Since he passed away, he has begun his final adventure. Thank you for coming today.
Condolences to the family may be sent to Tim Beecken 2736 Stagecoach Court, Fort Collins, CO 80526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.