John T. Beking, 90: Military man and jokester

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PORTLAND — John T. Beking, 90, died Sept. 13 at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough following a battle with cancer. He was born on July 21, 1922, in South Portland, a son of William E. and Mary E. (Kerns) Beking.  

Beking went to Portland High School, where he excelled in swimming and in track. He was undefeated in the sport for three years. He left high school upon the outbreak of World War II to join the United States Navy. When he saw that the recruiting office was full he walked across the hall and became a marine by joining the United States Marine Corps, making the service his career for over 20 years. He served in the Korean War and was stationed in Okinawa.  

Following his 24-plus years of military service, he had a variety of jobs including working at Jordan’s Meats, Maine Medical Center, New England Telephone and Budget Rent-A-Car, where he worked until he was almost 90 years old.

Beking married Lorraine Conley. They had five children.

He eventually went back to school and graduated on June 25, 2001, from Portland High School. He received his diploma at a special ceremony when he was 79 years old.  

Beking was an eagle scout and attended a reunion of eagle scouts at Camp Hinds when he was 87. There, he had the opportunity to meet the son of Hinds who donated the land to the scouts many years ago.

Beking enjoyed time with his family, of which he spoke proudly when he was with his friends and going to his niece’s house for Sunday dinners. Beking was a member of the VFW and Harold T. Andrews American Legion Post, where he appreciated playing dice, scratch and pull tickets and especially playing cards with his friends. He loved reading western books, listening to country music, dancing and being a jokester. He had an incredible memory, was energetic and enjoyed spending time with his fellow veterans and other friends whom he liked driving to and from various airports.  

Beking was a congregant of St. Hyacinth’s Church in St Anthony’s Parish of Westbrook, where he attended mass and enjoyed singing the hymns. 

Beking was predeceased by his parents; his sisters Ida Cline, Margaret Trefrey, and Amelia (Minnie) Stewart; his brother, William J. Beking; and his daughter, Lynn Marie Elwell.

He is survived by his daughters, Cheryl A. Beking and her partner, Dori Bishop, of Sarasota, Fla., and Gail Dennison-Hale and her husband, Willie, of Portland; sons Thomas and his wife, Janice, of Biddeford, and Jon E. Beking and his partner, Tom Sumner, of Westbrook; six grandchildren, Kimberly M. Donovan, Michele L. Harmon, Kristen A. Dennison, Wayne K. Dennison II, John T. Elwell and Thomas W. Beking II; four great-grandchildren, Kyle and Andrew Donovan, Jesse Elwell and Wayne K. Dennison III; and several nieces and nephews.

A funeral service was held on Sept. 17 with military rites at the Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home in Portland.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to: Hospice of Southern Maine, Gosnell Memorial Hospice House, 180 US Route One, Suite #1, Scarborough, Maine 04074.