OUR STORY WAS HIS STORY
Louis Adolphus Beckford passed away peacefully at the age of 97 on December 13, 2022. The only child of Mabel Jordine Beckford, he was born on Wednesday, June 3, 1925, in New York and grew up in Westchester County. While his mother worked during the week, Louis spent much of his time alone developing lifelong skills of hard work, self-reliance and responsibility.
Entering the Army in 1950, Louis was immediately recognized for his excellent administrative skills and was chosen to work in an Army office as opposed to seeing active duty. Between his natural intelligence, being the son of an English teacher, and the skills he learned as a child he earned several commendations for his service. Grammar, organization and timeliness coming easily to him.
After meeting the love of his life, a high school aged Clara “Chloe” Eleathe Rose, while visiting his aunt who lived in her family’s Brooklyn brownstone, Louis and Chloe developed a special friendship. Although they didn’t immediately date, they stayed in touch and corresponded for several years before he entered the service. Missing Louis, Chloe realized she wanted to marry and spend the rest of her life with him, and got her wish on June 13, 1952, while he was still enlisted. The couple would eventually spend 57 years together…setting goals, working hard and making their dreams a reality.
Settling in Brooklyn, Louis worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheet metal worker as he and Chloe grew their family. The couple’s older son Leslie Dean was born in 1953 and their younger son Neal Stanley was born three years later in 1956.
However, the birth of their daughter Carilynn Rose in 1959 began a number of changes for the Beckford household and the wide circle of relatives that surrounded them. An eminent domain ruling forced Louis and Chloe to leave their beloved Herkimer Street home and find somewhere else to live.
Eventually, in December 1960, they left the borough with which they were familiar and relocated with his mother Mabel to a larger home in Mount Vernon.
More changes awaited the family in this new city. Announcements about the planned closing of the Navy Yard in 1966, forced Louis to again use his self-reliance to identify a new career path. Returning to school, he earned his Teaching Certificate and began teaching Industrial Arts in the New York City School system. Throughout the years, Louis taught all the key academic subjects and worked in a variety of public and alternative school settings. As he neared retirement, he made the decision to transition from teaching to the calmer world of school administration. This transition led to his final position with a school for mentally disabled youth and adults.
During these years, even with a wife working in the financial district, Louis had always felt the need to provide more for their growing family that now included Louanne Jordine who was born in 1968. It was also during this time the “Roadrunner” was born. Roadrunner was the nickname the Mount Vernon taxi dispatcher gave Louis when he drove a cab to supplement the family income; something he started while he was in Brooklyn and continued to do while his children went to college.
Over the years, Louis and Chloe had spiritual homes in Brooklyn, Mount Vernon and Bronxville, New York. However, their time with The Reformed Church of Bronxville was a special period because, with three of their four children already adults, they had more time to help serve others. While Chloe sang in the choir and became part of a women’s group, Louis became a trusted Deacon who regularly collected the congregation’s offerings and meticulously counted the substantial sums each Monday morning. Even after Chloe’s death, though he wasn’t inclined to attend church without her by his side, he continued to arrive each week to count the funds that had been received.
At the end of June 1990, Louis was finally able to retire and begin enjoying his freedom…traveling with Chloe, spending time with his grandchildren and with his wife taking care of his beloved home, garden and lawn.
When Chloe’s health declined in later years, Louis spent more of his time caring for her and began to slow down after her death in 2009, missing the focal point of his life. However, he continued to keep up the Mount Vernon home they had both loved.
When he entered his 90s, he started relying more heavily on his children’s support and that of special caregivers who came into his life. In 2021, when he eventually had to leave his Mount Vernon home to receive institutional care, it was the end of an era.
What does our father’s life teach us?…support your family…work hard…and remember there’s always something you can do to improve your circumstances.
Louis is survived by his sons Leslie and Neal (Joey) Beckford, his daughters Carilynn (Don) Drummond and Louanne Guisuraga; grandchildren DeAnn (C.J.), Morgan (Liz), Austin (Marie), Paige (Craig), Anna, Dean, Alex and Noah.