Susan Beck-Milton, 71, of Tifton passed away Saturday, July 25, 2020 at her residence. A private funeral service will be held on Thursday, July 30, 2020, at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Tifton with the Rev. Lonnie Lacy officiating. A private graveside service will be held for Ms. Beck at Oak Ridge Cemetery, where she will be laid to rest. A public memorial concert will be held in her honor once public gathering restrictions are lifted.
AJ Milton, Derrick Dove, Eric Gonzales, J.J. Jackson, Bill Osborne, and Neil Stephens will serve as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be Brandi Dent, Karen Goes, Zoe Hobby, Donna Mallory, Cynthia Richmond, Donna Hellwig Rocker, and Mollie Bell Smith.
Born December 16, 1948 in Columbia, South Carolina, Ms. Beck was the daughter of the late Henry Sanford Beck, Jr. and Kathleen Underwood Beck. She was also preceded in death by one brother, Brady Leon Beck. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and master's degree from Syracuse University. She was a member of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church.
Ms. Beck began her teaching career in Toombs County, Georgia in 1971 and came to Tift County High School in 1972 where she molded a group of ordinary choral students into award winning choirs. Over her career, she served as choral director at the high school, junior high school, and middle school levels in Tift County before retiring from teaching at Crisp County High School. Her choirs performed at four Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) State Conventions, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Georgia State Convention, and many choral festivals where her choirs received numerous trophies and awards. In 1977, Robert Shaw’s Atlanta Symphony came to Tifton for a joint performance with her high school choir and the Moultrie High School choir.
Ms. Beck served as a choral consultant and clinician for schools and workshops throughout Georgia. She was an honor choir conductor in DeKalb, Dougherty, and Whitfield Counties, District 12 and 1 for GMEA, and Georgia Honors Choir, as well as music camp director at camps in Tifton and Valdosta. Ms. Beck held multiple professional offices with the ACDA and GMEA.
Ms. Beck made an impact on many young lives. She was a choral director who expected much of her students. She set the bar high, not because she thought it was an impossible dream, but because she knew the singers were capable of much more than they realized. She was a stickler for technique, especially with the drills she developed for sight reading by numbers. These drills, found in the book she wrote, Let’s Take Note, gave the singers the skill they needed to embed a piece of music into their minds. Then she added all the colors of music and incorporated the dynamics from pianissimo to forte which she could remind a singer to follow with just a look.
Ms. Beck was more than a director of choirs, she was a shaper of lives. Some of her students went on to become choral directors or professional singers. Some followed other paths, but continued to sing in community and church choirs. Many of her students will say their life was never the same and that their love and passion for music and singing was ignited by her. She rejoiced in the accomplishments of her students more than anything she accomplished herself. She will be missed deeply, but her legacy lives on in others.
Ms. Beck lives on in the hearts of her husband of 45 years, Alan Milton, Sr. of Tifton, Georgia; son AJ Milton and his wife Dr. Morgan Milton of Greenville, North Carolina; daughter Suzanne K. Milton of Tifton, Georgia and New York City, New York; one brother, Henry Sanford Beck, III (Anne) of Inman, South Carolina; and one sister, Kathy Beck Rinehart of Panama City Beach, Florida.
Flowers are welcome, or memorial gifts may be made to the Georgia Music Foundation at georgiamusicfoundation.org or the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.