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Carles Beckett; the rest of the story

For The Madera Tribune

Mr. and Mrs. Carles Beckett are shown here on their wedding day in 1972.


When Carles Beckett graduated from Fresno State in 1967 and began his career in education, he could look back on his first 22 years and recognize that his life had been a series of miracles.

Born in Piggott, Arkansas, he spent his first nine years living in a tent in a Buckeye, Arizona cotton camp and in a chicken coop on a chicken ranch in Petaluma, California. In 1954, his father was killed in a car crash, and his mother and three sisters came to live in Madera. Carles came riding into his new hometown riding in the back of a truck with everything his family owned.

In Madera, the community embraced Violet Beckett and her son Carles and daughters Ginger, Kay, and Alice. Folks made sure they had enough to eat, while Carles and his mother found work picking cotton in the Dixieland district. Miraculously, Carles and his sisters made it through school, and Carles began his teaching career at Ripperdan, where he remained for nine years. This was followed by three years as vice principal of Millview School, 15 years as Dixieland’s principal, and four years as principal of the new Lincoln School. From there, Carles moved to the district offices of Madera Unified School District where he served in a number of administrative capacities.

It was a miracle! Having surrendered his life totally to Jesus Christ, Carles had been rescued from a life of poverty and put on the path of dynamic service to thousands of kids and adults. With faith like that working for him, Carles would struggle no more, right?

Wrong! His struggles had not come to an end, but neither had God’s grace, and together that spelled more miracles.

In 1972, Carles and Georgia Miller were married. They had met five years earlier at a Youth for Christ event at the Sherman Thomas Ranch. Two years later their son Wade was born. With a beautiful wife, a precious, healthy son, and a promising career in education, how could life have been more stress-free?

Then, in 1976, on Palm Sunday, Georgia was delivered of their second child, Wesley. He was premature and weighed only three pounds and had a severe heart condition, which required an immediate open heart surgery. One week later, on Easter Sunday, little Wesley had a second open-heart surgery. No one was sure he would survive.

For 63 days, Wesley lay in ICU at Valley Children’s Hospital, and Georgia was right there by his side the entire time. Carles joined her after work and on the weekends. He spent hours and hours in the hospital’s little chapel praying for another miracle.

When it came time to bring Wesley home, Carles and Georgia were told that their son was the victim of cerebral palsy, and as if that wasn’t enough, on Christmas Day 1976, Wesley contracted meningitis. Back he went to the ICU at Valley Children’s, and with a temperature of 108 degrees, they performed 15 spinal taps and gave him 22 blood transfusions. Wesley would eventually endure 12 more major surgeries.

In the months that followed, it became clear that Wesley’s physical development would be extremely slow and in some cases, non-existent. It was a long time before he could sit up and crawl. He would always need someone to provide for his personal hygiene needs. As it turned out for the next 20 years Georgia provided that care, day in and day out. Wesley’s brother, Wade, who was his roommate, served as his arms and legs for much of that time.

In 1979, Wade and Wesley were given the news that they had a sister. She was named Wendy. In time, her life would become part of the Beckett miracle story.

Wade was 5 years old, and Wesley was 3 when Wendy was born. Their family pulled together over the next few years to give each other their prayerful support as they encountered more crises.

In 1991, Carles’ sister, Kay was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2006, his youngest sister, Alice, suffered the same diagnosis. In 2008, Ginger, the oldest sister, was struck with breast cancer. The doctors were incredulous — all three Beckett sisters had been hit with breast cancer!

Then came 2009. Carles’ mother came down with the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease; Wendy’s oldest son, Skyler, was diagnosed with Autism and she developed cancer in multiple organs.

Wendy’s first symptoms were mild. She went to the doctor with a mild cough and learned quickly that she had four malignant tumors the size of oranges. One was attached to her liver, and two were on her lungs. The most critical was the tumor on her heart.

Wendy underwent a 14-hour surgery at U.C. Davis. The tumors were removed, but she had to remain in ICU for 35 days. Once again, Georgia stayed with her child the entire time. After a year, Wendy returned to her teaching job at Central Unified, then the cancer returned.

She was treated, and returned to work. When the cancer returned a third time, Wendy was strongly advised not to try to return to work.

Many of those who don’t know Georgia and Carles can’t quite understand how they can call their lives miraculous. Their son Wesley with cerebral palsy has had 15 spinal taps, 22 blood transfusions and 12 major surgeries.

All three of Carles’ sisters have encountered cancer, which resulted in radical surgery for each of them.

Their daughter Wendy has fought cancer three times, and her oldest son, Skyler is autistic.

For those who can’t see the miracle, Carles says it all lies in joy — the joy of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ — the joy that comes from the inward presence of the Holy Spirit — the joy of the hope of the new life that is coming when all tears will be wiped away.

Together, all the family hold fast to their miracle: Carles, Georgia, Wade, Wesley, Wendy, Skyler, Jadon, Ginger, Kay, and Alice.

According to Carles, there is no room for an attitude of “Woe is me” when one is talking about miracles.


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