Rebecca Ann, Becky, Beck. A remarkable woman of many gifts and talents, Becky was filled with incomparable energy and vitality, defined by deep and abiding friendships that last a lifetime, along with a head spinning turn-on-a-dime resilience that was tested repeatedly by unexpected news, offers, events, and challenges.
In her childhood, the family moved nine times before Becky graduated from Winter Haven (FL) High School and she never missed a beat. While working part-time at a store during her college years at the University of Florida, she was tapped by a senior executive from Maas Brothers as management material and offered a training spot right out of college. Rather than pursuing her acting career — an early passion during which she would cajole her brother Bobby to join her in singing songs to their mother in made up plays authored by Becky — she changed her sights and immediately accepted the offer, beginning a 25-year meteoric rise in the company, later bought by Federated and which ultimately became Macy’s.
Another definitive quality of Becky was determination. Determined to ride a bike at a young age, she insisted on trying over and over again. Falling off. Getting back on. Falling off. Getting back on. Until, amidst the applause of her encouraging mother and the cheers of the concerned neighbors, she not only remained upright and smiling, but waved to them as she successfully wobbled down the lane.
An avid athlete, she ran two marathons, including one in NYC the same year her future husband ran (although they hadn’t yet met). For 20 years she disputed his claim that he had the better time. When they did meet on a biking trip in the south of France in 1996, it was an immediate connection — including conspiring together to entice half of the biking group to sneak off with them to a B&B in the midst of endless rain that reduced their camp ground to a creek. The tour guides were not amused . . . nor invited. That led to marriage in 1998 and two children shortly thereafter: Jacob and Joshua. All the while, Mark is working and Becky is on the fast track at Federated/Macy’s so her mom, Jimmie, came to live with them to help manage the household. Jimmie still answers the door when you ring the bell at the Dannenfelser home in Brookhaven.
In 2005, Becky left Macy’s to explore her next chapter. She soon met Andrea at a coaches training program (CTI) and a partnership was born lasting to this day. Becky’s resilience again showed while shifting gears from leading an 800-employee department with responsibility for multi-million dollar deals to making her own copies and camping out in the “office” at Starbucks or Terra Grill where they crafted a vision of what was to become Clearwater Consulting Group — the name Becky chose because she loved the town.
In a polite world in which not making waves often counts for more than truth, Becky insisted on naming the elephants in the room and then grappling with them until creative solutions emerged. She also processed every major event out loud, with others, in order to wring the greatest insights and experience from them. (Josh once banned his mother from coming to his basketball games for a year if she insisted on processing everything afterward.)
She did not suffer fools, was keenly intuitive, and could read a room or a person and instantly know what needed to be said or acknowledged or addressed. “And I went right at it” was a favorite phrase. With no apparent effort, Becky bonded with an amazing array of individuals — in the neighborhood, at Our Lady of Assumption, at work, with clients, parents of her children’s friends, and her physicians. The cards and tributes that arrived as she entered hospice are a testament to that gift of deep-seated, authentic connection.
As a patient, there were many occasions when she ‘went right at it’ because in truth she had as much or more information than some of the medical staff. Becky was her own best advocate. She fired three oncologists before landing at Emory and Vanderbilt, in the pursuit of a team who could match her intelligence, drive and passion for hope. With Dr. Ruth O’Regan, Dr. Keerthi Gogineni, and Dr. Carlos Arteaga she found her allies. She learned the secrets of medical research from her guide through the process, Henry Dreher, and used that skill and insight not only for herself for eight years but tirelessly for myriad friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. If you made your way into her heart, she was your champion for life. What aggravated her more than anything was someone not understanding their diagnosis and not taking responsibility for digging in to learn more. Becky was all about learning and applying that insight practically, about taking responsibility for choices, not blaming others, not deflecting criticism or feedback. Courage comes in many forms.
Becky was a huge spirit in a petite frame. Her impact on us all reverberates in ways known and yet to be known. She has always embodied an authentic courage that strengthens all around her, calling forth the best of who they are and can be. And that is probably one of her most endearing gifts.
She is survived by her husband, Mark, her sons, Josh and Jacob, her mom Jimmie, her brother Bobby and a whole host of relatives, friends, and colleagues who are members of the Becky Fan Club.
Watch a five-minute video featuring photo memories of Becky with clients, her Clearwater colleagues, and her family.
In lieu of flowers, friends have set up a college fund for Jacob and Josh:
Alternately, donations can be made in Becky’s name to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network: http://www.mbcn.org
If you would like to share a memory or leave a message for Becky’s family, you can do that here.