Dr. Kathryn Beck Brandon MD, MPH, FAAP
As a young woman, Kathryn was an accomplished ballet dancer, but her father, attorney Clarence M. Beck, advised her to pursue a career in medicine. She studied chemistry and pre-med at the University of Utah, and then in 1941 at the age of 25, she graduated from the University of Chicago, Rush Medical College as one of only three women in her class. She would go on to complete her residency in Pediatrics at Los Angeles Children and a Master in Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
Kathryn Beck Brandon, the daughter of Clarence and Hazel Beck, began her life in Salt Lake City on Sept 10, 1916. Her early childhood was idyllically spent in a home on West Temple, next door to her grandfather, John C. Cutler, second governor of Utah. Accompanied by her grandmother, her childhood winters were enjoyed in Southern California. Later, living on eleventh East and Yale, she attended and graduated from East High. Her three lifelong best friends were from her high school days. Stories from Kathryn relate many adventures skiing and hiking the Wasatch Front. She and her pals particularly liked to hike up Guardsman Pass and then ski down to the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon; there her father would pick them up. Of course, this was before ski lifts or resorts and the equipment was rudimentary: Kathryn said that she skied on "barrel staves and grasshopper bindings." She traversed many slopes from Sun Valley to Squaw Valley, and won trophies for her skill in down hill racing and beauty. She taught all of her children and grandchildren to ski and her enjoyment of the sport lasted a lifetime as a member of the Alta Lodge.
Her medical career was propelled into World War II with her marriage to William Brandon, an officer in the Navy. She had her son, John, while at Norfolk Naval base and her first daughter, Kathleen, in La Jolla, all while keeping a medical practice and a home. The war ended and the family moved to La Cresenta, CA to begin life in the suburbs and a home practice in family medicine. Her youngest daughter, Karen, was born in 1948, but then divorce followed and subsequent moves to Northern California and Utah.
In Utah Kathryn was the Medical Director of Salt Lake City Schools from 1957 – 60.
She prided herself on her close contact with students and parents and was instrumental in requirements for immunizations and the dangers of "junk" food in schools. In 1960 she opened a medical practice in pediatrics. Those were the days of home calls, and long, attentive office visits. Many a Sunday morning a small patient with an earache would sit on her living room couch receiving compassionate care. Her other professional endeavors included Director of Ogden City and Weber County Health Department, Pediatrician at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, Student Health Physician at the University of Utah, Occupational Health Physician at Hill Air Force Base, and Child Health Physician at the Salt Lake Health Department. She was also consulting physician and field clinical assistant at the University of Utah College of Medicine, clinical assistant at Pediatrics University of Colorado and active staff emeritus at Primary Children's Hospital, LDS Hospital and Cottonwood Hospital.
Her affiliations included Fellow of the American Public Health Association, American Pediatric Academy, and the American School Health Association. She was also a member of Phi Mu Sorority, the American Medical Association, Utah College Health Association (president 1978 – 80), Pacific Coast Health Association, Utah Medical Association, Salt Lake County Medical Association, Utah Public Health Association (sec-treas. 1960 -66), and the Intermountain Pediatric Association.
Kathryn was very proud of her Utah pioneer heritage. She shared many stories from the lives of her aunt, Reva Beck Bosone, first congresswoman from Utah, SLC Judge Horace Beck, and her father, a colorful labor lawyer from American Fork. But, above all else she loved and was very proud of her children and grandchildren: John Brandon, Kathleen Brandon, Karen Brandon (deceased), Megan McEnulty, Joseph McEnulty, David McEnulty, Elizabeth Felt and Matthew Felt.
After a very long, productive and fascinating life, Kathryn died very peacefully on Nov 22, 2011 at Silverado Senior Living. She had reached 95 years and shared her wisdom and sense of humor with the caring staff at Silverado. The family held a small service for her where they shared "Grandma Kay" stories and said goodbye.
Her family wants to thank the caregivers at Silverado and Hospice for all the love showed her in those last months. She truly was happy there. Donations can be made in her name to Primary Children's Hospital, where she still attended grand rounds until she was 94.