My father died at Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott on Wednesday, March 21, 2007. But it is not a death we should mourn but a life to be celebrated. He went "hell-bent for leather" for 88 years and that is to celebrate.
He was born in Gross, Kansas to Marcelli Savini, but she took him to Italy in the first year of his life and she died there, and he was put into an orphanage in Italy after World War I during the depression. Life must have been harder than we can ever imagine. He returned to America in 1935 to our own Depression to live with his father, A. Becco in Gross. Like many young men of that time, he finished a tour in the CCC Corps and then to the Army for World War lI. He married my mother, Ruby Leta Wise, in January of 1943 and was discharged in January of 1944 with $10 in his pocket and me, Marsha Jo, on the way in March. As the story goes, he spent $5 of that on a bottle of whiskey for Grandpa Wise.
He began work at Karbe's on the square in Fort Scott at $15 dollars a week in 1944 and began the climb.
They bought the "home place" on 69 Highway, south of town, and my brother, Tony A. Becco, was born there in 1947. Dad and Mom began a fruit stand, immediately, in front of the house. It was the first of many stores they would run. My parents sold fireworks in July every year, built Becco's Open Market in 1952, started a propane business in 1955, opened Wall Street Feed with Englehart Elevators in 1962, and bought Oak Street Feed in the late 60s. Along the way, he taught himself carpentry by building a cabin on Lake Farlington and became good custom cabinetmaker. He made ornamental wood items, windmills, picture frames, and flower boxes to sell for the rest of his life. He loved to fish and always seemed to have a boat and rods and reels somewhere. The cabin on Spring River was a summer home and was always full of friends and stringers of fish, just like the cabin on Lake Farlington. My parents held open house on New Year's Day for anyone who wanted to come with live music and all the food you could eat. He loved to make fish bait, with secret recipes for dough balls and blood bait for catfish, $1 a can, of course. He loved to fish nights at Lake Fort Scott for channel cat. He would travel anywhere there was a fiddle and a guitar to hear good old-time country music, one of his greatest passions. He had many a jukeboxes, over the years, to play his extensive collection of 78 records, all country, Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills (his favorite), Red Foley, Hank Williams, Sr., and Patsy Cline.
Frank and Ruby celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1993 before Mom died in October of 1994.
Dad was lost until he found Meals on Wheels in 1997 and he spent the last 10 years of his life working there. A life well and long lived. He may not always have been wise, but he was always alive, joking and loving people. He gathered many friends and kept them for a long time.
Frank Becco is survived by a half brother, Delmo Savini of Iron Mountain, Michigan; a cousin, Bill Montanelli of Arma; a daughter, Marsha J. Becco; a granddaughter, Kimberly French and a great-granddaughter Aroara French, of Springfield, Missouri; and a son, Tony Becco, wife Marcia, and grandson, Christopher, of Lee's Summit, Missouri.
Pastor David Tucker will conduct graveside services at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Memory Gardens with Mom. The family will receive friends from 6-7 p.m. Friday in the Cheney Witt Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Meals on Wheels, something dear to my father's heart, and may be sent to Cheney Witt Chapel, P.O. Box 347, Fort Scott, KS 66701.