Sir Marcus Beeck

Beeck, Sir Marcus Truby (1923–1986)

by Wendy Birman
This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Marcus Beeck

Sir Marcus Truby Beeck (1923-1986), farmer, grains industry leader and company director, was born on 28 December 1923 at Gannawarra, Katanning, Western Australia, second of four sons of Gustav Edwin Beeck, a South Australian-born farmer of German descent, and his wife Martha Ellen, née Keast, who came from Sydney.
Growing up in a Baptist family at Gannawarra, Marcus was educated through the Western Australian Correspondence School until his final year, when he rode on horseback each day to the Katanning State School. In his formative years he was much influenced by his mother, a schoolteacher and naturalist, who wrote on social issues under the pseudonym Cordelia Maskon in local newspapers.
He worked on his father’s farm before enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force on 5 May 1942. Exploiting his natural mechanical talent, he trained as a fitter and served as a leading aircraftman in the Northern Territory and Borneo, and on Morotai. He was discharged in Perth on 24 October 1945. Using his deferred pay from military service as a deposit, he acquired and began to develop a sheep and grain property, east of Katanning, which he called Coyrecup.
On 5 April 1950 at St Matthew’s Church of England, Windsor, New South Wales, Beeck married Leonie Pamela Dale Robertson, a mothercraft nurse. Well educated, widely read, and a competent researcher, speech-writer and wily debater, she was to support Beeck in his many projects.
A member (1947-51) of the Katanning Road Board, he was involved with many local organisations, including the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, pony and rifle clubs, and the historical society. He was active in agricultural societies at Nyabing, Pingrup and at Katanning (where he was ringmaster), and as a council member (1966-86) of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia, Perth. Councillor-in-charge of district displays, for some years he also organised the Great Southern District’s entries. As president of the RAS in 1975-78 he was associated with the extension of the Claremont showground and the construction of the Silver Jubilee pavilion.
He led Western Australian delegations to Canada, Jamaica and Wales for conferences of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth. During the meeting held in Wales in 1975, fellow participants at a banquet at Ruthin Castle dubbed him The Baron’, asobriquet [that] subsequently stuck to him’.
In 1969 Beeck was elected a Growers’ Council member of the Grain Pool of Western Australia. Chairman of the council in 1972-73, he was a trustee of the pool (1973-75), and president of the steering committee that arranged for amalgamation of the pool with the Western Australian Barley Marketing and Seed Marketing boards in 1975. In 1975-77 he was chairman of the reconstituted pool.
He accompanied several trade missions to Europe, Japan, the Soviet Union and South-East Asia. Under the auspices of the Department of Overseas Trade, he led a materials-handling and warehouse-equipment trade mission to Indonesia in 1975.
Sir Marcus was a director of Westralian Farmers Co-operative Ltd from 1977; as chairman (1983-86) he oversaw the company’s restructuring and listing in 1984 as Wesfarmers Ltd.
He was awarded Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee medal in 1977 and was knighted in 1979.
Sir Marcus’s recreations included rifle-shooting, flying, golf and tennis. Upstanding, approachable and sociable, he enjoyed meeting people and the conviviality and music of extended family gatherings and was a member of the Western Australian, Weld and Katanning clubs.
He died of cancer on 2 May 1986 in Perth and was buried in Katanning cemetery. His wife, their son, and two of their three daughters survived him.

 

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