Dr. Debra Baker Beck, 58, of Laramie, died Tuesday, March 7 at Ivinson Memorial Hospital after a four-month battle with cancer. Dr. Beck grew up in Cheyenne and attended Central High School, where she was active in drama and choir, among other things. She received the Wyoming High School Honor Scholarship and attended the University of Wyoming. As a journalism major, she was a member of numerous organizations, including the Mortar Board. She was named the editor of the Branding Iron in 1980 and had that position until she graduated with honors in 1981. After graduation, she took the job of general assignment reporter/editor at the Sheridan Press in Sheridan. While covering a school board meeting in 1983, she met a new broadcast reporter named Bob Beck. The two got engaged, and when a Laramie radio station hired Bob, they moved to Laramie. They were married in 1984. Debra eventually was hired to be a publications editor at the UW News Service and later took over as the office special assignments editor.
In 1990, she took over as the assistant director of the UW Alumni Association. During that time, she earned two master’s degrees and became interested in nonprofit governance, an interest that led to a number of papers, presentations, articles and board trainings.
She became a national expert on the topic and was a key speaker and panelist at a variety of national conferences. Debra later took a PR position with the College of Education and earned her Doctor of Education degree in 2009.
Debra not only studied boards, but she served on 13 nonprofit boards, and in 1999, she received the Albany County SAFE Project Lifetime Achievement Award. She also was awarded the 1999 Yoplait Yogurt Committed to the Cure Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Fight Against Breast Cancer, Komen Wyoming Race for the Cure. She also co-chaired the 2009 United Way of Albany County campaign with her husband. Debra was a gifted writer and had numerous articles published on topics surrounding feminism, crisis communication and nonprofits. At the time of her death, she was working on a book concerning nonprofit governance. She also loved photography and had several photos published in her career.
She is survived by her husband Robert Beck, of Laramie, and brothers, James and Jim Baker, of Cheyenne, and was preceded in death by her parents, Jack and Carol Baker of Cheyenne. Services will be 2 p.m. March 18 at the First United Method Church.
The Alibi Pub will host a post-service reception. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Black Dog Animal Rescue in Cheyenne, The Kindness Ranch or United Way of Albany County.