D. Elden Beck was born in Spanish Fork, Utah in 1906. In 1925 Beck started college at Brigham Young University and went on to earn a PhD from Iowa State College. Beck spent about 5 years from 1933 to 1938 in the Dixie area and was made head of the Biology Department at Dixie Junior College soon after his arrival.
An avid collector of bugs, reptiles, and other small animals, he made countless excursions into the southern Utah wilderness. During this time he corresponded often with a former BYU professor, Vasco M. Tanner; married his wife Florence Robinson in 1934; and through her association with Dixie art instructor Ralph Huntsman, began Dixie College's annual fine arts festival.
Maurine Whipple was in the midst of writing her best-selling novel The Giant Joshua when she visited Dr. Beck at Dixie College. At this time, he was able to help her by providing much of the information about the flora and fauna thriving in the desert settings she described in her narratives. Later, he and his family became a source of encouragement for her during hard times in her life.
Beck worked on research teams for many organizations throughout his lifetime including: the American Museum of Natural History, the Taiwan Provincial Malaria Research Institute, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the World Health Organization. Beck also worked on research teams aimed at studying the effects of over 100 atomic bomb detonations in the Nevada test area. Beck passed away in 1967 at the age of 61.