We Must Remember Phyllis Beck
By Monette Benoit
Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
Phyllis Beck will always have a special place within my heart, my world.
Phyllis and my brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, met online in 1998 when each sought answers to their hepatitis C diagnosis.
Phyllis and Kevin forged a wonderful friendship based on respect and integrity.
They created a team with mutual goals and a desire to seek answers to help others on this path.
I am just a sibling. Phyllis helped me when I most needed her help, so I could move forward in my world – to honor the work Kevin had created alone – and working with Phyllis Beck.
Kevin learned (and documented) he was gifted the hepatitis C virus from military vaccinations.
My father now has the virus from a hospital blood transfusion.
Phyllis helped me, as a sibling and a daughter, to digest this information. Phyllis returned every e-mail, every phone call. She truly cared.
Kevin’s medical and scientific research was an asset and combined with Phyllis Beck’s nursing and research skills, each was detail oriented to the max.
Each had a gift for seeking answers and for finding wisdom in bleak moments – often with a smile and a determined resolve.
I first heard about Phyllis Beck from my youngest brother prior to his death.
I learned how special Phyllis was after Kevin’s death.
Phyllis Beck, in Oregon, was the last person within the hepatitis C community to speak to my brother the night of his death August 5th, 2000.
They were working to fulfill Phyllis Beck’s goal toward creating information for prisoners and an online forum for prisoners and their families.
After Kevin’s funeral, I learned Kevin and Phyllis spoke that evening and were focused on creating a venue for Dr. Ben Cecil, a veteran, to assist in this specific goal.
After Kevin’s sudden death, I stood tall and faced the wind to listen, if I could, per my brother’s request.
When I learned Phyllis had spoken to my brother that evening, I reached out to Phyllis to help me with answers and questions as they arose.
Phyllis Beck rose to the occasion.
She honored my brother Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly sharing, with me, his work, his world – personal and professional. I learned they truly did have a special friendship.
When Kevin’s widow, Justine Velocchi Lomonte Donnelly, a veteran and nurse, refused to share Kevin’s research, his address book or any information, Phyllis Beck stepped forward for the hepatitis C community.
Phyllis phoned the number she had phoned so often to speak with Kevin and phoned Kevin’s widow. Phyllis politely, respectfully spoke to Michelle Lomonte, stepdaughter, and Tina, widow. Each request by Phyllis Beck was refused.
Phyllis was a trained nurse. While requesting Kevin’s work, she listened – at length- to members within Kevin’s residence immediately following his death – to honor Kevin and to pursue the goal Kevin had asked of Phyllis prior to his death.
Kevin had asked Phyllis (and a handful of close friends) to ask for Kevin’s work, his research — to ensure the hepatitis community did have information from Kevin’s research, his address book.
Once her request was refused, Phyllis phoned Kevin’s residence and offered to purchase the information related specifically to Kevin’s work (which he had dedicated the last 2+ years of his life). That offer was refused, too, by Kevin’s widow.
Professionals, veterans and patients have deliberately documented that Kevin’s work would have helped the entire hepatitis C community.
Due to the refusal to share any – any – of Kevin’s research and hepatitis information, Phyllis and I continued to chat.
Perhaps had the information been shared, we might have parted paths, gone our separate way.
Phyllis’ respect for Kevin and her devoted integrity to her path, kept Phyllis focused.
And she shared many details from her world and Kevin’s personal world with me.
(She knew the brand of cigarettes Kevin smoked and how much coffee he drank each day — a true friend.)
In short, I became her friend. I learned about Phyllis, her family, her work and enjoyed listening to her laughter. I will always remember Phyllis Beck’s laughter.
Phyllis also shared a song Kevin used to sing to her. Kevin loved to sing and to whistle.
As we worked to move forward, one day Phyllis phoned and sang their song to me, laughing.
She shared how she and Kevin used to giggle in their light moments. Then they would focus back on their target — helping others. I treasure that sharing knowing how hard each worked to assist veterans, their families and prisoners. Phyllis Beck focused on information and treatment for veterans and prisoners with hep C.
Two years to the night of my brother Kevin’s death, when I learned Phyllis Beck’s goal with the online prisoner forum was not yet fulfilled, I came in overhand, as Kevin and Phyllis would have wanted.
August 5th, 2002, in Memory of Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, Dr. Ben Cecil went online with Phyllis Beck to answer questions from prisoners and their families relating to hepatitis C and multiple issues.
We need to remember this dedicated lady.
We need to know Phyllis labored and laughed and achieved goals many only dream about — all to help others to find answers to the hepatitis island where many find themselves upon diagnosis.
When I learned Phyllis Beck had died, it was after I reached out to Phyllis to help me with a request. A hospitalized man needed help. I e-mailed Phyllis as I had for eight years.
I reached up to Phyllis Beck – again.
It seemed odd to not receive an e-mail, “Hey, HOW are YOU?” included with her reply.
But this time there was silence. Then I received an e-mail from a member of Phyllis Beck’s family sharing she died March 21, 2008.
Tears filled my eyes; I did not know she was ill. I did not know.
After communicating, sharing, laughing and listening for eights years since Kevin Drue Donnelly’s death, I did not know.
And I felt pain not knowing Phyllis Beck was so ill.
Head bowed, I immediately prayed for Phyllis and felt a warm feeling. In my heart, as close as Kevin and Phyllis were to each other in their commitment to helping others, I believe Kevin met Phyllis when she arrived in heaven.
I have learned: this group sticks together, and it is to comfort and to help each other.
Phyllis Beck, you were so wise.
Thank you for teaching me, for laughing with me, for singing ‘your’ song and for the personal moments we privately shared.
I have so much information, knowledge – personal and professional – because you shared – and you cared so much.
May God Bless you and all those who now follow in your footsteps, Phyllis.
“Why? Because I gave my brother my Word.”
Phyllis Beck would want me to write that Kevin Drue Donnelly is the author of “The Panama Story” – a gifted novel on the true origins of hepatitis and virus testing – combined with a novel setting by Kevin to keep the readers interested. This free story is posted: http://www.geocities.com/hepvet/PanamaTitle.html
I know Phyllis enjoyed Kevin’s story, written one chapter a night, many moons ago.
Kevin’s web site, Veterans Helping Veterans, http://www.geocities.com/hepvet/index.html, is now run by LeighAnn Vogel and may be referenced for multiple facts and details for veterans and their families: http://www.geocities.com/hepvet/
We are where we are now because of our ability to look back and to embrace each other.
Please share this posting with others. Please remember Phyllis Beck.
You are at peace now, my friend.
Your work is done. And we will miss you and your laughter, Phyllis Beck.
Much love, much respect,
Monette@CRRbooks.com and www.ARTCS.com
About the Author:
Monette Benoit, B.B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, is a JCR Contributing Editor for the National Court Reporters Association, NCRA. She is the author of multiple books to include the national and state RPR, RMR, RDR, CSR ‘Written Knowledge Exam’ Textbook, Workbook, a companion Study Guide, ‘The CRRT WKT’ CD Software Program, Advanced SAT, LSAT, GRE, Real-Time Vocabulary Workbook and ‘CATapult’ Dictionary CD Software Program series.
Books, CDs, private tutoring, mentoring services and articles may be referenced http://www.crrbooks.com/
Monette is an experienced consultant, instructor, real-time court reporter, tutor, life coach, CART provider, columnist.
She teaches, tutors and coaches home-study students, college students, court reporters and professionals. Monette speaks to groups at state, national and international conventions about motivation, technology, expanding skills and Deaf, Oral Deaf, Hard of Hearing.
Monette Benoit, B.B.A., Certified Court Reporter, Certified Reporting Instructor, Certified Program Evaluator, Paralegal, may be reached at: http://www.crrbooks.com/ http://www.catapultdix.com/ and http://www.artcs.com/
20 May 2008