European edition, Saturday, July 21, 2007

MANNHEIM, Germany — The life of what friends called a vibrant, gregarious woman was remembered at a service Friday, a week after her mysterious death in the quarters she shared with her husband and two teenagers.

Scores of people mourning Regina Beckwith filed into the Benjamin Franklin Village chapel, including her husband, Staff Sgt. Steven Beckwith, her two children, Brandice and Sterling, and a number of soldiers from Steven Beckwith’s unit, the 28th Transportation Battalion.

They all listened to the chaplain talk about the burden of grief, especially in deaths like hers.

“Unexpected, unanticipated death” is one of life’s most incomprehensible storms, said Capt. E. Jay West.

West was the only speaker at the service and he gave no eulogy of Beckwith, who was 38 when she was declared dead early Saturday by a German doctor called to the home.

She had suffered a stab wound, Mannheim public affairs officials said. But how she came to be stabbed, by whose hand, and whether that was the cause of death had not yet been established, pending an ongoing investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

West read from the Bible, led the mourners in “Amazing Grace” and told them that comfort came from God and from each other.

“Love one another, support one another and embrace a family torn by tragedy,” he said.

After the service, Beckwith’s friends described her as an outgoing, unpretentious woman who worked numerous jobs around the garrison, enjoyed socializing and was a devoted mother, who, like other Army wives, had dealt with her husband’s deployment to Iraq.

“She had a bubbly personality. She was so funny, people liked being around her,” said Jesse King, general manager of a business that provides American sports teams jerseys and hats.

King said Beckwith, a former employee, had set him up on dates with women she knew and was otherwise caring of her many friends. He said he’d been interviewed by investigators and was anxious to know what happened to Beckwith.

“All I want to know is the truth,” he said.

Another friend, Leslie Parker, said everyone who knew Beckwith loved her, the sort of upbeat woman who loved the color pink and always wore something of that hue.

“She knew everybody, she talked to everybody, she’d laugh and joke with everybody,” said Parker, who works at the garrison bowling alley. “She had a lovely personality.

“You can do all the church services you want to, but nobody said how good a mother she was, how good a woman,” Parker continued. “Everybody misses her. They just don’t believe it.”

author picture
Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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