Gertrude Harriet Dickson Beckwith was reunited with Donald, her late husband of 54 years, when she passed from this life on September 4, 2020. The daughter of William and Emily (Ganter) Dickson, she was born in New Haven on February 4, 1933. As a young child she moved from the Westville neighborhood to Newport, RI, before settling in West Haven at the end of World War II in 1945. She was to remain a West Haven resident for the next 74 years, only relocating to Masonicare’s Ashlar Village in Wallingford a year ago.
Faith, family, and service are cornerstone values for many. But for Gert Beckwith, they were a way of life. Faith animated her Christian values, while her devotion to family and dedicated service to put these values into everyday practice.
Faith and service converged through Gert’s membership in the First Congregational Church of West Haven for 75 years until her passing. She and Donald (and, later, their two daughters) were married in the Church and she will be memorialized there at a future date. In between, she served the congregation in many capacities. These included as a choir member, a coordinator of the Apple Festival held every fall, secretary of the married couples social club for over 50 years, a member of the Mission committee, a delegate to the Connecticut conference of the United Church of Christ , and many more. Gert was an especially avid reader who left stacks of finished books in her wake, so she took special joy and pride in the semi-monthly book sale she ran at the Church for many years.
During her final illness, Gert was overheard saying to herself “Oh, God, thank you for my family.” And her family, indeed, was central to her life. She was predeceased by her parents and younger sister Marion, and survived by her older brother William(Shirley); her children Carol (Gary) Warner, Robert (Martha) Beckwith, and Cynthia (Peter) Goettler; grandchildren Christopher (Paola) Warner, William (Monica) Beckwith, Erika (Stephen) Bourque, Julieanne (Patrick) Ferguson, Cynthia (Carlos) Barrientos, Elizabeth (Katie) Goettler, Emily (Jaryth) Bollinger, Abigail Goettler, and Samuel Beckwith; and 12 great grandchildren—four of whom are yet unborn, but the arrival of whom Gert was eagerly anticipating at the time of her passing. Following the birth of her first great grandchild in 2013, Gert relished the moniker—”GGG” or “Great Grandma Gert”—by which she would thereafter be known. Gert enjoyed supporting her grandchildren by attending every play, concert, recital and sporting event her grandchildren took part in.
In addition to her long career as an accomplished legal secretary, Gert saw education and service as lifelong vocations. She received her college degree, a bachelor’s in liberal studies from Southern Connecticut State University, in 1994 at the age of 61. A 2003 article about her in the Connecticut Post, “Woman of Substance,” showcased Gert’s many contributions to the community. In addition to her church work, these included service as recording secretary and volunteer docent at the Ward Heitman House Museum Foundation, treasurer of Friends of the West Haven Library, recording secretary for the Land Trust of West Haven, treasurer of the Seth Haley school scholarship fund, the American Legion Auxiliary, the annual Walk for Multiple Sclerosis, and six years as an elected member of the West Haven Board of Education. She also volunteered as an ESL tutor for adult immigrants learning English.
Her family plans a private service and interment, to be followed at an appropriate and safe later date by a public service at which her family, friends, and the many she has touched can celebrate Gert’s life and bid her farewell. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First Congregational Church, Book of Remembrance or to WHEAT.
674 Washington Avenue, West Haven CT 06516
First Congregational Church, Book of Remembrance
1 Church Street, West Haven CT 06516