Milton C. Becker Jr., 69, a steelworker's son who became an award-winning Philadelphia television news cameraman beloved by colleagues, died of cancer Thursday, Dec. 8, at his home in Lake Wylie, S.C.
"He was just absolutely the best," said longtime CBS3 reporter Carol Erickson, who insisted on working with Mr. Becker whenever possible. "I always would go to the assignment desk and say, 'I've got to have Milt Becker.' He was effortlessly good. He would get beautiful shots without a lot of fanfare."
Erickson said she worked with Mr. Becker on "hurricanes, snowstorms, murders, Groundhog Day, any kind of story imaginable." She said the news of his death "has been a blow to all of us. Even if you didn't see him every day, you want to know he's in the world."
His camera work accompanied reports by other recognizable names at CBS3, also known as KYW-TV. He worked with Ukee Washington, Pat Ciarrocchi, Robin Mackintosh, Dick Sheeran, and Walt Hunter, according to fellow retired cameraman Bernie Lehman.
"All the reporters wanted to work with Milt because of his knowledge of news and because he was very agreeable," Lehman said. "He was a good cameraman and very funny. He and Sheeran would go out and they would always come back laughing."
Mr. Becker was born in Reading to Leah Gernert Becker and Milton Becker Sr. He graduated from Muhlenberg High School in Reading in 1965, then attended the RCA Institutes in New York, earning a certificate in television directing, production, and studio operations.
For more than 40 years, he worked as a Philadelphia TV cameraman, starting at Channel 17 and moving to Channel 29 before spending almost three decades at KYW from 1982 - when it was an NBC affiliate - until he retired in 2011.
Mr. Becker filmed the infamous 1985 confrontation with MOVE in West Philadelphia, and met President Ronald Reagan in the White House with anchor Diane Allen, his family said.
He won a 2010 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award for Outstanding Business/Consumer News Feature for his work on a series titled "Grocery Shopping With the Coupon Mom."
In addition to his regular job, he was a freelance cameraman for Comcast coverage of Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers games, Lehman said.
At a party in Abington in the late 1970s, he met Catherine Hockman of Glenside, a psychology and art history student at what is now Atlantic Cape Community College. A couple of weeks later, he invited her to dinner at the Deptford Tavern in Gloucester County.
They married in 1980 and moved to Glenside, where two daughters were born. The family moved to Hammonton, N.J., in 1985. Mr. Becker and his wife moved to South Carolina in 2012.
"He loved his children and his two grandsons more than anything else in the world," his wife said.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughters Jessica Dziengowski and Tracy; stepdaughter Kathleen Hesley; two grandsons; and a sister.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 19, in the chapel at Laureldale Cemetery, 4631 Pottsville Pike, Reading, followed by a graveside service.