Brigham Young University will honor Ray Beckham as Homecoming Founder this year.
Homecoming 2018 Founder
We’ve heard the stories of early BYU founders like Karl Maeser and George Brimhall. We recall pioneering women like Barta Heiner and Janie Thompson. We know our BYU presidents turned apostles and our lawyers turned BYU presidents. This year’s founder is a person whose leadership, innovations, and service to this university and community put him in league with the giants, even though he is unknown to many current students. His name is Ray Beckham (BS ’49), and his pursuit of doing the good work of BYU in nearly every role imaginable for more than 50 years is paralleled only by the good he did in the community—in church, civic, charitable, and business matters. Much of the infrastructure and many of the programs the BYU community knows—and assumes were simply always here—came from Beckham’s constant innovations and leadership. His vision, generosity, commitment, and creativity were compounded by his intelligence and unbelievable work ethic. He was a learner and a doer as well as a friend and builder of relationships par excellence.
Everyone knows the entities Beckham founded or organized. You’ve heard of Aspen Grove, the Cougar Club, and Education Week. You’ve heard of the BYU Evening School and the Travel Studies Department. You’ve sat in the Marriott Center, cheered in the Lavell Edwards Stadium or Smith Fieldhouse, and experienced the Museum of Art, all buildings he raised funds for. Beckham served BYU over many years in roles as varied as the Director of Public Services, Development Director, Sports Information Director, and Alumni Director. He created the first records of BYU Alumni almost ex nihilo and later made BYU the first university in the country to computerize its alumni records. He developed the BYU Annual Giving Fund and built the first Alumni House on the corner of campus. He supervised the Student Program Bureau, today known as Performing Arts Management. He served as a bishop in the first-ever BYU stake. He was a professor of PR, marketing, and communications for 21 years and created the New York City internship program for communications students. His contributions as a teacher, mentor, and administrator are so numerous they cannot in the smallest part be adequately represented.
The same is true for his service to the Church and community. He was a stake president, mission president, regional representative, and long-time public affairs missionary. He was part of countless Church committees. He served on the board of directors for more than 20 businesses and charities. He was director of corporate communications for NuSkin and had many other business interests. He worked as president of the Central Utah Red Cross for nine years, and as president of the National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America for three terms. Beckham provided numerous scholarships to students, gifts to needy community residents, and made time to serve neighbors and others in ways large and small. He was a loving husband and father of five, married first to Ida Lee and then to Janette Hales after Ida Lee passed away. He was inspired by BYU and its mission and lived a life that inspired others in turn. We hope that at Homecoming 2018 you will be inspired, too.