Kimberly Mendel Beck had a gorgeous mane of golden curls. An irresistable laugh. A husband and five young children she loved. A new home she had planned and saved up for. A bottomless appetite for loving and serving others. And a heart as big and strong as an ox.
Born on August 24, 1977 in White Plains, New York to Peter Paul Mendel and Lori Wray, the second child and first daughter in the family. From the time she was young, Kim embraced every adventure and challenge life sent her way. When she went out and played with her brothers and sisters, it was Kim who would come back dirty from head to toe.
One summer at her grandmother’s farm in Ohio, when she was just seven years old, Kim decided to break the monotony of farm life by climbing her grandmother’s freestanding 25-foot tall television antenna. There she sat, above it all, looking out across the miles, while her mother stood at the foot of the tower trying to coax her down.
Kim combined this adventurous spirit with a deep sense of kindness towards others. Her sister Heather remembers how gently she’d play with her dolls. As a student at Loma Vista Elementary School in Santa Ana, California, Kim grew into a voracious reader. She would keep the lights on late into the night while she devoured volumes of Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. She identified so strongly with the spirited, adventurous, big-hearted Anne that she often pretended to be Anne when she played.
As a student at Foothill High School, Kim belonged to a large and loving group of LDS friends. She also joined the Tall Flags team and became a beloved member of the Foothill High School marching band family, traveling to competitions as far away as Hawaii. She graduated from high school in 1995.
That fall, she enrolled at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where she continued her love for reading and history as an English major. While at BYU, she travelled on Study Abroad to the Jerusalem Center and visited Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. She graduated from BYU in 1998, finishing her degree in just three years.
That same year, Kim married Rob Beck in the San Diego Temple. “From beginning,” Rob remembers, “we knew we were meant to be together.” During their courtship and the early years of their marriage, Kim loved to jump in the car with Rob and drive and talk for hours. “Sometimes we’d go to Las Vegas and just talk and look at the lights, sometimes we’d go down the harbor in San Diego,” Rob remembers. Their favorite drives were through oak-lined Silverado and Trabuco Canyons of Orange County.
In 2005, Rob and Kim moved to Palmdale when Rob took a job as an air traffic controller. Kim devised a careful budget and a savings plan that would allow her and Rob to purchase a home large enough for their family. After three years of saving and searching, Kim and Rob found a five bedroom home in Palmdale. “She was the driving force,” her husband Rob remembers. “Once I figured out she was way better than I was at planning for and running the house, I just got out of her way.”
Her family called Kim “the ox” because she was “unbreakable. The hardest worker ever. She just wouldn’t quit.” While helping her sister Heather move into an apartment, Kim once carried a couch up three flights of stairs. “I thought we should call the home teachers,” Heather said. “But Kim said, ‘We can do it,’ and she did.” Kim was equally determined and independent when it came to her own home. “The kids were making tracks on the bathroom carpet,” Rob remembers, “so one day Kim just decided, ‘I’m going to tile this bathroom.’ And she did. She went out and got all the stuff she needed and she did it. And a few months later she put laminate down in the kitchen floor. She could do anything she put her mind to.”
Kim’s mind was often focused on the needs of others. In her monthly planning, she often budgeted to make sure she could help meet the needs of those around her. She put in many hours for the PTA at Esperanza Elementary School in Palmdale, and she served valiantly as compassionate service leader for the Rancho Vista Ward in Palmdale. “Anybody could call and she’d get what they needed,” Rob remembers. “And she never boasted about helping. She protected people’s privacy. Years from now, we’ll still be finding out things she did for others.”
Kim never worried too much, never cared about what others thought or got caught up in appearances. “She had seven shirts in her closet,” her family remembers, “and rotated right through them.” Rather than spend on herself, she saved her money to buy necessities for her kids and generous gifts for her thirteen nieces and nephews. “Her number one priority was others,” says one of her sisters. “She wanted to make sure everyone else was happy even if it meant sacrificing herself.” Adds Rob, “she gave so much to others that everyone thought she was their best friend.”
Kim loved spending time with her family and friends. Her house was often full of kids from her neighborhood or ward. Every year, she looked forward to her ward’s campout at El Capitan State Beach. During the summer time, she always planned vacations in Orange County, where she loved to visit the beaches just north of the Newport Pier and play in the waves with her kids. She was at her happiest when she was piling everyone she loved into her van and heading out for fun and adventure.
On March 3, Kim had her van full of her children and their friends and was pulling into the driveway of her home in Palmdale. When she briefly left the van to restrain the family dog she noticed the van rolling back and tried to stop it but became pinned under the vehicle. Even though her chest was crushed, emergency workers were able to get her heart beating again. Despite efforts to save her, Kim was pronounced brain dead on March 6. Doctors were able to harvest reconstructive tissue and organs—including her mighty, mighty heart—to save the lives of four other people. In her death, Kim leaves a legacy of unstoppable generosity.
Kimberly Ruth Mendel Beck is survived by her parents, her husband Rob Beck, their children Griffin (10), Dylan (8), Zachary (7), Savannah (4), and Chloe (3), her brothers and sisters Joshua Mendel, Heather Mendel Fife, Alexandra Mendel, Matthew Mendel, Megan Mendel Aguirre, brother-and-sisters in law Douglas Fife, Mark Aguirre, Britney Mendel, and thirteen nieces and nephews.
Funeral services are planned for Friday, March 11, at the Orange, California LDS Stake Center, 674 S. Yorba, Orange, California, 92869. A viewing will be held at 11 a.m., and services will begin at 12:30 p.m. Interment will take place at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana at 2:30 p.m.