Harriet C. Beckenhauer

Harriet C. Beckenhauer

February 28, 1936 – October 15, 2021

Harriet Beckenhauer, born February 28, 1936, in Ord, Nebraska, passed away at the age of 85 on October 15, 2021.  She is survived by her children: Ann Gilreath (Scott), John Beckenhauer (Natalia), Amy Beckenhauer (Bill Pantazopoulos), and Andrew Beckenhauer (Nicky); grandchildren: Alex and Abby Gilreath, Sarah and Owen Beckenhauer, Athanasios, Roman and Konstantin Pantazopoulos, and Grace Beckenhauer; brother, Dale Zadina; sister, Mary Dragoo.

VISITATION: Thursday, Oct. 21st from 5pm to 7pm at the West Center Chapel.  FUNERAL SERVICE: Friday, October 22nd at 11am, Presbyterian Church of the Cross, 1517 S. 114th St.  Interment, Evergreen Memorial Park.  Memorials may be directed to Opera Omaha or Josie Harper Hospice House.  A Celebration of Harriet’s Life will be held at the German American Society, 3717 S 120th Street, at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 22, 2021.

To view live broadcasts of the Funeral and Graveside Services, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.


Harriet Carol (Zadina) Beckenhauer, mother, researcher, adventurer, mentor, master gardener, baker, opera lover and fiercely loyal friend, passed away at the age of 85 on October 15, 2021.  Born in Ord, Nebraska, she was proud of her heritage, descending from Czech immigrants who settled in Nebraska.  Harriet was the daughter of hardworking parents, Louis and Matilda, dear sister of Dale and Mary, beloved wife of Robert, cherished mother of Ann, Amy, John, and Andrew, treasured grandmother of Alex, Abby, Sarah, Owen, Thano, Roman, Dino, and Grace.

Harriet relished time with family: weekly Sunday feasts around her dining room table, massive holiday spreads, meticulously planned family adventures, and eagerly awaited trips to Ord would all spark that gleam in her eye.  She loved classical music and the theater, served for decades at Opera Omaha as the House Manager, always urging her children and grandchildren to embrace the arts, especially opera.  A dedicated volunteer at the Rose Children’s Theater, Harriet prompted her grandchildren to be theater volunteers and see all the shows, also supporting them with frequent trips to local museums.  There were always special treats afterward.  Her love and care shaped everyone around her.

An entrepreneurial spirit, Harriet was proud of her rental properties, putting her children to work rehabbing dated interiors and developing their skill sets.  She was an enthusiastic investor in the stock market and loved to talk stock with anyone who was interested.  Harriet assembled an investment club with friends (the “Good Time Girls”) and was happy to motivate those around her to put their money to work.  She had an equally adventurous soul, fully embracing the thrill of travel and ready to go anywhere at a moment’s notice – of course socializing with fellow travelers and locals alike!

Harriet enjoyed her career as a successful researcher in the Liver Study Unit at the VA Hospital.  She was an energetic and creative co-worker, to the point of being mischievous.  Harriet was inquisitive, was at home in a scientific setting, and achieved her professional crowning moments in 1992-93, when she was invited to present her research data at ISBRA (International Society of Biomedical Research on Alcohol), in Bristol, England.  She was then invited to present study findings to the sponsors of her research team in Helsinki, Finland.  Harriet eagerly used both opportunities for international adventure and took her family with her to create more wonderful memories.  She also contributed 20 plus years of effort amending soil and tending her prized plants as a master gardener. Her 6-foot sunflowers and truckloads of eggplant and red pepper were frequent topics of conversation.  She loved to be outdoors working in the gardens that thrived under her care.

Harriet’s career, involvement in local Omaha organizations, and frequent travel led to lifetime friendships that she treasured so much.  She was a collector of people, always having time to develop and nurture friendships wherever she went.  Harriet amazed her family throughout the years, whether it was sewing perfect outfits for her children, curtains for her home, canning her harvests of fruits and vegetables for the winter, baking spectacular pies, breads and kolaches, or helping execute science experiments and solve math problems.  She was never short on energy and always available for a talk, lots of laughs, and hugs for everyone.  But above all these things, beyond her career, her desire to connect with people, her myriad of interests and skills, Harriet will be remembered by her children as a brilliant light who illuminated, inspired, and guided her family to lead lives as joy-filled and giving as hers.



  • Harriet, you will be missed. Posted October 18, 2021 8:22 pm

    To the family of Harriet: She was a trooper full of life and energy! For years she put up a strong fight regarding the ugliness of cancer. She was a leader and positive light for all of us. It was an honor to know her. Sandi Sloan

  • Helen LaRochelle Posted October 19, 2021 1:52 pm

    I’ve had the privilege of being one of Harriet’s tenants over the last 2+ years at one of her meticulously cared-for rental properties. Harriet blew me away from day one. She was brilliant and hard working, and she had a gift for making people feel special. Despite her ongoing fight with cancer, she never seemed to miss a beat. I will be forever grateful that our paths crossed. She was a wonderful person who had a profound impact on my life, and I will miss her deeply. I’d like to offer my deepest and most sincere condolences to Harriet’s family and loved ones during this difficult time; she spoke of you all often and made it known how proud she was of her family.

  • Dennis and Carol Salgado Posted October 20, 2021 1:49 pm

    Thank you Harriet for all the love and joy you brought to our family. We will always be grateful to Harriet for keeping our connection with Bobby and and the family throughout the years. We looked forward to your California visits with your wonderful sister Mary. We were never without conversation as Harriet always had so many questions and was so interesting to talk to. She smiled with her eyes and her genuine love and concern for people oozed from her huge heart. The world would be infinitely more beautiful if more people were like Harriet! Our deepest condolences to her entire family. May God give you the Grace to face each day forward with such Grace, curiosity, tenacity, joy and love, as your beloved Harriet!
    Dennis and Carol Salgado.

  • Mike Serafino Posted July 11, 2022 12:55 pm

    Sorry for the loss of anyone who knew this great woman. She was a true genius and a wonderful person. I will never forget the privilege I had of working with Harriet and Dr. Barak back around 1981. Working with them made that time one of the very best times of my life.

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