Todd Wesley Van Beck passed away Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Beloved father of Thomas Van Beck, loving son of the late Thomas Anthony “Tony” and Norma Jean (nee Feekin) Van Beck, dear brother of Scott (Sarah) Van Beck and uncle of Wesley, Helen, Sam and Neil Van Beck.
Van Beck was a person who had a half-century love affair with both funeral and cemetery service. He willingly admitted that he was “no expert!” but also quickly admitted that there was nothing about this work and life he did not enjoy and have intense interest in. Van Beck had said: “Have never done a day’s work in my life; it has all been fun and interesting.”
Van Beck earned his professional diploma in mortuary science in 1973 from New England Institute of Funeral Service Arts and Sciences, his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and psychology from Mount Mercy University and his Master of Arts in religion from Athenaeum of Ohio (Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary). In 2005, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service. Van Beck held several certifications and licensures, including certified funeral service practitioner (CFSP) and certified funeral executive (CFE), as well as licensure in several states.
Prior to his employment as program director at Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science (CCMS), Van Beck served as faculty/director of continuing education at John A. Gupton College, as general manager at Forest Hill Funeral Homes & Memorial Parks, as director of family funeral care and public relations at A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home, as president and CEO of Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service and as director of education for The Loewen Group Inc. His academic career began at CCMS in 1982.
Van Beck was an active writer and speaker internationally for many decades and covered most every topic relevant to our profession. He authored eight books and over 400 articles on deathcare topics. A historian and academician, Van Beck grew up in southwestern Iowa and declared at the young age of 5 that he would become a funeral director when he grew up. As he often said, he was still growing up, still learning, still trying to make some kind of worthy contribution to his beloved profession. Van Beck operated funeral homes, cemeteries and mortuary colleges during his career and selflessly served the deathcare profession in many arenas across the nation and internationally, which satisfied his desire to see the world. He was thrilled and humbled to return to CCMS, where he planned to continue his mission until retirement.