We lost a good one last Friday. After 4 years of fighting colon cancer, Jeff Becker, President of the Beer Institute passed away. We grieve for the loss of a good friend, a wonderful person and a passionate industry advocate.
Jeff was one of the more interesting members of our industry. Consider being an unflappable optimist while working in Washington DC? Neat trick, yet Jeff always believed things would work out for the best, and his track record suggested that belief was well founded. He labored for years protecting our right to enjoy beer with a minimum of aggravation and expense. Anheuser-Busch/Inbev recognized his contribution by having Duke, a Clydesdale, honor Jeff by standing guard during the service.
Industry people gathered at the office of the National Beer Wholesalers Association the day before the service during which many a toast was offered recognizing how much Jeff meant to all of us. People reflected on his challenges with sensitivity training, his particular version of off-color humor, and other character-defining attributes.
However, all shared a common sense of having enjoyed the company of a rare and great man. He could orchestrate an effective campaign to head off and tax hike while giving comfort as the vicissitudes of life caused personal disruptions. He schooled me in the strategies and tactics of being an association executive during my tenure at the Brewers’ Association of America. He provided inclusive leadership as the craftbrewers began taking seats at the big table.
The service, and reception following, had between 750 and 1,000 guests. The testaments from podium and pulpit alike filled out the life of an industry giant. Family and friends talked about a family man, a cook, a lifelong friend, and someone who gave life and love to all he met.
I’m not going to even discuss his legendary golf game. Apparently he shot in the low 30s on nine holes the week before he died. Amazing. Then there’s the tequila, but that’s another story.
We’ll all miss him for a very long time. Our heart goes out to his wife, son and daughter.