June 17, 1921 – October 14, 2018. Long time Los Altos resident Mary Jane (Herby) Beck, has passed away after a long battle with dementia, and a short skirmish with pneumonia. She was 97. Mary Jane was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. She was also a writer, a poet, a musician, an animal lover, a self-proclaimed women’s libber before there was such a thing and she was always up for an adventure. Born in Jamestown, New York, to Irene and Charles Herby, she proudly played clarinet in the Jamestown High School Marching Band. She went on to get a degree in International Relations from Mt. Holyoke College, and shortly after, landed a job as a newspaper reporter for the Rochester Times Union in Rochester, New York.
It was in Rochester that she met and married her best friend and soulmate, John Robert (Bob) Beck, who was just beginning his long career at Kodak. They bounced back and forth between the Kodak plants in Rochester and Palo Alto, California, before finally settling in Los Altos in 1967. Along the way they had five children, a bird, a dog and numerous cats.When the kids got older, Mary Jane continued her career as a freelance writer. After Bob’s retirement from Kodak in 1986, Bob and Mary Jane began traveling the world in earnest, including many trips to Europe, a semester abroad in Florence, China, Japan, Egypt, New Zealand and Yugoslavia to name a few places. Even in her 80s, Mary Jane was traipsing off to Africa and India with Bob. Mary Jane was also a long-time violist and played in the local Nova Vista Symphony until she was 91. Remarkably, Mary Jane continued playing viola-violin duets with her daughter until she was 96. Granted the quality of their play would have made their music teachers cringe, but they still had fun. Mary Jane was predeceased by Bob Beck, her beloved husband of 64 years. She is survived by her children: Bryan Beck (Kaia Eakin) of Redwood City, Steve Beck (Jane Baxter) of Menlo Park, David Beck (Sue Hatfield) of Seattle, Barbara Beck (Geoff Anderson) of San Jose, Tom Beck (Amy Norton) of Louisville, and her two grandchildren: Allison Baxterbeck and Ariel Baxterbeck Fruendt. Services have been held. In her memory the family suggests donations be made to the Nova Vista Symphony https://novavista.org/, Pets in Need https://www.petsinneed.org/ , or Mt. Holyoke College https://www.mtholyoke.edu/ .