Joan Beck—CHS Hall of Honor

A current Clinton High School student or 2020 graduate has researched and written the following article about one of the 2020 Hall of Honor inductees.  The induction ceremony will occur on Friday, April 16, at Clinton High School.

Joan Beck

Professional Career Accomplishments

By Kyle Gassman

Joan Beck, (maiden name Joan Wagner), graduated from Clinton High School in 1941. She attended college at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism. In college she met and later married a classmate, Ernest Beck. They both graduated in 1945, but Beck worked on her master’s degree until 1947. One of her accomplishments in college was being the first woman editor for a student Newspaper, the Daily Northwestern. For a brief period Beck worked as a script writer for the “Voice of America” and a copywriter for “Marshall Field & Co.”

A few years later, after World War II, Beck started working at the Chicago Tribune. At the time, she was one of the very few women that worked outside the home. She went on to do several more things no woman had ever done. She became the first woman to edit a major section at the Tribune in 1972. In 1975, she was the first woman to join the Tribune’s editorial board. She then became the first woman to write a regular op-ed column in the Tribune titled, “You and Your Child,” which ran twice a week. That column was distributed to hundreds of other newspapers, making Joan Beck known nationally for her smart and humorous commentary on politics, women’s rights, and medical and social issues. She continued the column for almost 20 years, until she passed away in 1998.

At her home in Lake Forest, IL, Beck raised two children. Her daughter Melinda Beck followed her mom into journalism.  She worked as a writer and editor at Newsweek, and is now working at The Wall Street Journal where she wrote a column on medical issues.

One of Beck’s other accomplishments was writing several books over early childhood issues, including How to Raise a Brighter Child which was published in 1967 and sold worldwide, being translated in eight different languages. The book helped many adults to better understand parenting in an easier and more relaxed way. Throughout Beck’s life she has received numerous awards, including an outstanding alumnus award from Northwestern University and the prestigious American Society of Journalism’s award for best commentary in 1994. That same year she was inducted into the Chicago Journalism’s Hall of Fame.

Due to the pandemic, the Clinton High School Hall of Honor induction was postponed last year. The district is now planning to honor this strong class of inductees on Friday, April 16 at Clinton High School. The public will be invited for the luncheon and induction speech portion of the day. Social distancing, face coverings, and sanitation routines will be required.

The Clinton High School culinary students will cater the luncheon. Inductees will be guests of the Hall of Honor Committee. The luncheon will cost $10 per other attendees. Main entrees are Lasagne Al Forno (Italian Beef Lasagna) or Chicken Parmigiana (Chicken Parmesan). If you are interested in attending, please contact Deb Deters at ddeters@clintonia.org.

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