Windmill becomes educator’s memorial

A friend finishes restoration of the late Klova Beck’s pet project.

From left, Charmaine Beck, her son-in-law Carl Culham and Bob Vance talk after the windmill, in background, that was erected last week at Beck's home on Old Milton Highway.

From left, Charmaine Beck, her son-in-law Carl Culham and Bob Vance talk after the windmill, in background, that was erected last week at Beck's home on Old Milton Highway. Photo by Andy Porter.

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WALLA WALLA — It was a tall order, but Klova Beck’s windmill is finally up and running.

Beck, a former superintendent of Pleasant View School near Milton-Freewater, had wanted to put an antique windmill up behind his home on Old Milton Highway. When he died in February, only the base and lattice-steel tower had been erected.

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In the backyard of her home on Old Milton Highway, Charmaine Beck, left, and Bob Vance look over literature about the windmill.

“It was his project,” said Beck’s wife, Charmaine Beck. “He started working on it in the late 1980s after he retired.”

But after his death, the business end of the windmill — the wind vanes and pump assembly — still needed to be hoisted into place.

Enter Bob Vance, a master at restoring windmills.

“Bob came to me and said, ‘I knew your husband, do you want to put up that windmill because I can do that,’” Charmaine said.

So it was on a bright Monday morning this week that Bob, with the help of a boom truck, got Klova Beck’s windmill up and running. The job went quickly and smoothly, and about 30 minutes after work started the steel-gray blades were whirling around in the light summer breeze, 30 feet above the ground.

The windmill had belonged to Sam Wolf, a farmer for whom Beck worked harvests when he was still in college. The two men remained friends and years later Beck asked Wolf if he could take the windmill from its original location near Rulo Station on Sudbury Road to his home.

“This one is a Flint & Walling Star 37,” Vance said as he and Charmaine Beck studied the rebuilt windmill from ground level. “It’s kind of a rare one.”

The majority of water-pumping windmills people see are the Chicago Aermotor brand, which are still in use today.

One noteworthy aspect of the windmill now whirling away in the Beck’s backyard is that it wasn’t used for target practice, as so many other windmills have been.

“Very seldom do you find a windmill that there aren’t bullet holes in them,” Vance said.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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