By Justin Strawser

RANSHAW - Even to those who weren't related, LaRue Beck was like family.

That was the theme expressed by several friends as they remembered a woman known for her civic pride, including

with the Shamokin Area PTA and school board, and the Ranshaw Civic Association (RCA), upon her death at age 84 on Saturday.

"She was my mom's best friend. We called her Aunt LaRue. My kids called her Aunt LaRue," said Jamie Bordell, 55, of Coal Township.

Bordell and her husband, Bill, 64, both served on the PTA with Beck for at least 35 years.

Jamie Bordell's mother, Pat Hoffman - who passed away exactly eight years ago on Jan. 19 - was friends with Beck since 1963.

Diane Kaleta, 66, of Ranshaw, called LaRue her "second mother."

"A better woman couldn't be found," Kaleta said.

Kaleta was vice president and LaRue president for many years of the Brady Friendship Club, which was later disbanded, and the RCA.

Bill Bordell said LaRue had a special quality.

"She was a very dedicated person towards kids, a very caring and loving person, and concerned about everyone," he said.

She was a joker with a kind heart, added Jamie Bordell.

'A go-getter'

Kaleta said everyone looked to LaRue for help and answers.

"She was a go-getter. She went after everything to help the community and families in need. You could depend on her for everything," she said. "I could talk to her about everything. She was a shoulder to lean on. She was involved in so much."

Kaleta last spoke with LaRue last week on the phone, and she knew her health was poor. The last thing LaRue said to her before hanging up was, "Don't forget to keep in touch and keep calling me."

School board role

It was last summer when Bill and Jamie last interacted with LaRue.

Bill said he asked how she was feeling because she was looking thin. He tried to visit her in the hospital a month ago, but wasn't allowed in her room.

When he found out she resigned from the school board earlier this week, Bill said he was worried.

"I could never see her give up the school board," he said.

While hospitalized Tuesday night, Beck's resignation was accepted by the school board, which appointed one of her daughters, Treina Mariano, as her replacement during an emotional ceremony.

According to her family, Beck first joined the school board for a four-year term in 1989. She was re-elected three more times, serving from 2001 to 2013, and had previously held the positions of president, vice president and treasurer. This year marked her 16th year as a board director.

At the meeting, board members, reflecting on her failing health, had plenty of positive things to say about Beck. Director Bob Getchey referred to her as his second mother, and said he often went to her for advice and will miss having her to turn to. Director Ron McElwee said Beck accomplished more than most in her lifetime.

The Bordells, who were in Virginia this past week visiting their daughter and new grandchild, had planned to visit Beck in the hospital when they returned this weekend.

"She will be missed," Bill Bordell said.