Tue, June 25

Montezuma Well volunteer retires after 34 years <br><i>National Parks Service says goodbye to Beckman, 94</i>

Staff photo by Dean H. Borgwardt

NATIONAL Parks Service volunteer Jack Beckman of Rimrock calls it quits after 34 years volunteering at Montezuma Well National Monument.

Beckman, of Rimrock, was honored Friday, in Camp Verde by some 30 of his friends and colleagues for his dedication with the National Parks Service.

"It's meant a lot to me over the years and I have so many good memories," Beckman said. "It's been a lot of fun and I thank you all for the memories."

Beckman was presented a plaque in the shape of the National Parks Service emblem. Its surface covered with names like an arrowhead shaped going away card.

Kathy M. Davis, superintendent with Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot national monuments, said that Beckman started so long ago, no one really knows exactly how long he has been volunteering.

"He was there every afternoon, seven days a week some 34 years," she said. "We're sad to see him go."

She added that volunteers like Beckman are a valuable service for the National Parks Service.

Robert Delcarlo is the volunteer coordinator for the three sites, Montezuma Castle, Tuzigoot, and Montezuma Well national monuments.

He said that volunteers are invaluable in their service and currently there are about 20 at the three sites.

"They provide extensive services to us," he said. "They work with us on projects and with administration and Jack is a wealth of historic knowledge."

Another Parks volunteer is 18-year veteran Don Montegomery.

"Jack used to trace the petroglyphs and replicate them on stone and do presentations to schools," he said. "He'll be 95 in Oct. and he's pretty sharp."

Davis said that volunteers make contact with visitors to the sites and help with school tours, with interpretation and history and a myriad of tasks.

She added that there are about 200,000 visitors annually at Montezuma Well, a detachment of Montezuma Castle National Monument, which receives about 500,000 annually. Tuzigoot gets some 115,000 annual visitors.

Beckman is going to live with his son, George Beckman, 57, in California.

George said, "My dad dedicated much of his life to the Well and he touched many lives. He has always been a remarkable person."

Beckman senior swapped stories and anecdotes with his friends and shared a cake.

Decarlo said that Beckman started his career with the Parks Service as a seasonal ranger and then began volunteering daily.

He said that Beckman will be remembered for his love of Montezuma Well and his dedication to the Perks Service's concept of preservation. In May 2001, Beckman was presented with an award in honor of his outstanding service to park visitors and the values of the Park Service.

According to Delcarlo, Beckman gave numerous presentations on cultural and natural history topics to school groups, private tours, special interest groups and visitors alike.

A participant with the American Rock Art Association, Beckman would make replicates of petroglyphs and his presentations enhanced the historic relevance. Beckman wrote a history of Montezuma Well that became a valuable research tool for staff members.

Like a faithful friend, Beckman was true to Montezuma Well, making it part of his daily life.

He said that he watched as Native Americans visited the Well and baptized their children in its water.

"All I can say is that it is a wonderful place and it has meant a lot to me," Beckman said. "Most of all though, I'll miss the people."