When the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex opened in 1969, Jerry Beck, of Fort Dodge, was among the first softball players to enjoy the facility.
Beck would go on to spend decades there, playing, umpiring and coaching.
“I played until 1995 when I had neck surgery,” he said. “That ended my playing career, but I didn’t want to give it up so I started umpiring. I did that for 20 years.”
Eventually, he heard the quiet whisper of the years gone by.
“Mother Nature told me the body wouldn’t take it anymore,” he said. “I coached a women’s softball team.”
The team, sponsored by Ja-Mar, did well under Beck’s coaching.
“I coached about 10 years at least,” he said. “Ja-Mar won five out of six state tournaments they were in.”
Beck enjoyed many aspects of his softball career.
“I loved the camaraderie,” he said. “The people you get to know, the competition of playing. A couple of years I played with my sons Scott and Brian.”
He addition to umpiring local games, Beck also umpired at the Iowa Games in Ames for about 20 years.
Ten years ago he became a co-commissioner for the Iowa Games.
“I still do that,” he said.
He’s also been permanently remembered for his work.
“In 2007, I was inducted into the Fort Dodge Softball Association Hall of Fame,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized.”
In 1985, the Webster County Chapter of Pheasants Forever was founded.
“I attended my first banquet in 1987,” Beck said.
He liked what he saw and became more than just an active member; he became a leader.
“I saw what they were trying to do,” he said. “I got on the committee in 1990. Two years later, I was elected president, a position I held until 1997. Then I became treasurer/banquet chair. I’ve held that position ever since.”
The group has been a part of many projects since then, something Beck is very proud of and something he said could not be done without those who have supported Pheasants Forever.
“We’ve contributed over $1,250,000 for habitat projects in Webster and surrounding areas,” he said. “If it wasn’t for people and businesses, we could not accomplish this. Credit needs to go to the people that made it possible.”
The group has, in partnership with other conservation groups and Webster County Conservation, completed many projects.
“We have filter strips along the dredge ditches, the Bob Hay Memorial site, the Seltz property youth hunting area, Miller Marsh by Vincent and Meier Marsh,” he said.
The group also helps with Hunter Safety Education and gives two scholarships every year to a Webster County graduated entering a conservation-related field.
He said the work not only benefits those using the outdoors today, but those that will someday.
“It gives you a sense of real pride,” he said. “It’s not for us, but for future generations. Our kids and our grandkids.”
Beck also helps out by having served on the Webster County Conservation Board for over a decade and serving as the treasurer for the Friends of Webster County Conservation as well.
He also keeps busy as a volunteer at the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home.
Beck decided to contribute there after seeing its volunteers and staff in action when his mom, Paula Beck, was a patient there.
“I saw what that meant to the people that were there,” he said. “It’s just a neat way to give back to the community. You develop some neat relationships.”
He’s developed a special respect for its nursing staff.
“It takes a special person to do that,” he said. “Day in and day out, I know how tough it is. They are special people, they’re special angels.”
Beck also serves on the finance committee and board of trustees at First United Methodist Church in Fort Dodge.
He has advice for those looking for a place to volunteer.
“You need to be a part of the community in which you live,” he said. “Get involved in things that you have strong feelings for. If you don’t participate, you’re not doing yourself a service or doing the group any service. Be part of the community. Do what you can do.”