Doris Beggs


Barefoot, braided hair, and clad in bib overalls during North Dakota summers, young Doris Mae Keck relished hanging out with her father and doing chores on the family farm 10 miles south of Turtle Lake, ND.  It was there that Doris made her debut on December 9, 1935, the youngest daughter of August and Katherine (Kate) Wagner Keck.

“I remember how kind and patient Dad always was with me,” Doris said.  “I loved to work outdoors with him, keeping him company on a tractor or as he repaired our farm machinery.  I really wasn’t enamored with duties traditionally handled by women and girls.  I guess because Mom’s homemaking skills were so amazing, I was content to let her have the starring role. My Dad had a hard life from a very young age but did not complain.  He worked all the time. He was strict but a soft-hearted, kind, loving and intelligent person, always eager to learn and to teach.”

Doris took the lessons from her father to heart throughout her 88 years of life. She became known for her kindness, industriousness, generosity, curiosity, devotion to family, and lifelong learning.

Doris ended her life journey in Bismarck December 16, 2023, exactly one week after her 88th birthday. She had battled myriad health challenges with tenacity, courage, and grace.

During childhood, Doris developed a passion for reading, another interest she shared with her dad. Throughout her life, Doris always had a stash of books! If she wasn’t working, you could find her immersed in a book pursuing her own adventures or lovingly reading to her children and grandchildren.

“When I’m not otherwise engaged, I’m at my happiest curled up with a good book.  That’s something that hasn’t changed since I was very young,” she once said.

When health adversities came later in life, Doris dove even deeper into her passion for books.  Books gave Doris magical times.  Books were her refuge, her way to travel without leaving her chair as she became less mobile.

Doris attended a one-room country school near the Keck farm.  After graduating from Turtle Lake High School in 1953, she worked at the ND Department of Public Instruction in Bismarck.  She married Arlo R. “Skip” Beggs, a 1951 Turtle Lake High graduate, on December 5, 1953. A few weeks later, Skip left to serve with the U.S. Air Force in Korea.  Doris continued working in Bismarck. For the year Skip was in Korea, they wrote letters to each other almost daily.

In 1955 the Beggs’s moved to Grandview, MO, where both worked for the U.S. Air Force.  Their daughter, Connie Joy, arrived May 16, 1956, in Harrisonville, MO.  Six weeks later, the family returned to North Dakota where Skip attended Bismarck Junior College and Dickinson State College.  Skip delivered their second daughter Stacey Jane at home in Dickinson during a snowstorm in the middle of the night on Feb. 20, 1959.

For 17 years the family lived in Williston where Doris and Skip worked for Williston Public Schools. Doris did a variety of administrative duties for principals and staff including managing the school libraries. After a move to Bismarck for Skip’s career, Doris worked for ND Game and Fish.  Later, Skip became an insurance claims department manager in Jamestown in 1979 while Doris worked in accounting at the ND State Hospital.

Both retired in Jamestown. They enjoyed visiting and attending activities of grandchildren in North Dakota and California.   Mimi Doris and Papa Skip, as they were known to their grandchildren, attended many swim meets, soccer matches, dance recitals, and concerts. They hiked, biked, helped with homework and pets (even pot-bellied pigs, rats or other critters adopted by grandkids) and of course, Doris read a lot of books!

As a mother, Doris worked many extra jobs so her daughters could have opportunities for activities such as music, baton twirling, and swimming. A talented seamstress, she sewed many clothes for herself, her daughters and their dolls, often repurposing fabric from her own clothes.

Doris took many long hand-in-hand walks with her daughters to libraries. Even when money was scarce, she sacrificed and saved to ensure encyclopedias, classic literature, music, and poetry were staples at home.  She consistently put her children’s needs first.

Her compassionate heart loved and nurtured many animals. She had a lifelong soft spot for dogs, including her last dog Fritz, a dachshund that watched over her for almost 10 years.  Doris exuded warmth, humility, grace, gratitude, and intelligence. She had a marvelous sense of humor. What a joy to hear her gleeful giggles!

Unbeknownst to many, Doris shined as a ballroom dancer.  She and Skip took lessons and practiced for hours in their living room where Connie and Stacey applauded with delight as they perfected their rhumba, waltz, two-step, cha cha, and jitterbug to music that inspired them.

Doris never missed a beat in expressing appreciation or concern for others no matter how difficult her days were. As for resilience, Doris earned her childhood nickname of “Kitty.” Family would tell her she was catlike and tenacious because of the number of times she battled adversity and landed back on her feet!

To carry Doris’s memory forward: read a good book, read to someone else, support libraries, gift a book, rescue an animal in need, be a good listener, and go the extra mile to express appreciation.

Cherishing her memory are daughters Connie Moench (son-in-law Jim Moench), Bismarck, ND; Stacey Kelly, Kapolei, HI; grandchildren, Nate Halvorson, Alex Halvorson, Bismarck; Alecia Kelly, Kapolei, HI; Afton Kelly, Kailua, HI, Alexandra “Lexie” Kelly, Laguna Beach, CA; Thomas “Grady” Kelly, Weaverville, CA; three great grandchildren, Jackson Halvorson, Zoey Halvorson, Dickinson, ND, and her youngest great grandson Harper who shared many special times with Mimi Doris.

Her parents (August and Kate), husband of more than 68 years (Skip), and siblings (Verna, Robert, Stanley) preceded her in death.

A Celebration of Life is planned for 11 a.m. Thursday, March 21 at Bismarck Funeral Home with burial at the ND Veterans Cemetery at 2 p.m. Doris loved pink, silver and gray so attire in those colors would make her smile!

In lieu of flowers, donations to libraries, animal shelters or the ND Veterans Cemetery are suggested.

Special thanks to Red River Valley Hospice, House Calls, and Baptist Health Care for their extra compassionate care in Mom’s last life chapter.

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Sympathies and prayers for Doris’s daughters, Connie and Stacey.

Debbie, we really appreciate your kind thoughts. We have such wonderful memories of our times with the Malcherts. Your parents were such an important part of our lives growing up. What a great friendship our parents enjoyed!

Thank you Debbie. We appreciate your kindness. So many memories of our families together when growing up. Our Mom loved your family.