OCEAN SPRINGS -- Becky Feder's death was a huge loss to the arts community in Mississippi, those who knew her said, and it leaves a void in life-long friendships that will never be filled.
An artist in her own right, Feder was an accomplished cook and passionate life-long learner. Her friends describe her as fiercely loyal and loving. Larger than life, she had a way of filling a room when she entered, they said.
"Two weeks before God called her to heaven, she was pounding a hammer, building a house for a single mom," said Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran, who grew up with Feder. Ten days before she died, she was the guest chef for the Lunch and Learn program at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center.
"Ocean Springs has lost a true legend," Moran said, "a kind lady who was the epitome of Southern graciousness, elegance and philanthropy for many years."
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Born in Biloxi in 1954, she traveled the world with her husband in the military and settled in Ocean Springs in the same neighborhood as friends from her childhood. She also was thoroughly enjoying being a grandmother. She died Wednesday, a day after being diagnosed with a rare cancer.
Ron and Becky Feder's R&B Charitable Foundation for the Beaux-Arts was responsible for bringing Thacker Mountain Radio Hour shows to the Mary C., and they were sponsoring the Downton Abbey fundraiser for Mississippi Public Broadcasting set for Dec. 4 at the Mary C, when she died.
They were known for their contributions to the arts in north Mississippi -- the Oxford Film Festival, the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic and the Center of the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss among many others.
Thacker Mountain Radio Hour is primarily out of Oxford, but the Feders single-handedly brought it to Ocean Springs for periodic shows. The production will dedicate next weekend's show at 7 p.m. Saturday to the Feder family.
Host Jim Dees said, "She's leaving such a void, because she and Ron were plugged into so much."
The show's Facebook dedication called her "sweet Becky, a force of nature, never to be forgotten."
Liz Cleveland, with the Foundation for Public Broadcasting in Mississippi, said Feder "was the kind of person that when she was in a room, she filled it. She was there to find out about everyone and to find out what she could do to help. Inquisitive, direct, she never could learn enough. She and Ron were a dynamic team. There were things they've done that no one will ever know."