PR Student: Rachel Zelnick
This article was produced in cooperation with the COMMS 425 lab.
Faithful, kind and generous to the end, Dr. Raymond E. Beckham passed October 31, 2017.
“Ray Beckham changed the world…one person and one day at a time. So many people that have come through this school at BYU are better because of Ray. We know how to communicate and love better because we’ve sat at Ray’s feet,” said BYU Professor Robert Wakefield, one of Ray’s close friends.
It would take pages to list all of Ray’s accomplishments, but some of the highlights are his work starting the BYU Alumni Association, Aspen Grove Family Camp and Conference Center, his fundraising efforts for the Cougar Stadium (now Lavell Edwards Stadium), the Museum of Art, Marriott Center and his help implementing the New York Internship Program.
Ray also helped in the community by participating on the Downtown Provo Beautification Committee, which planned service projects, planted flowers on Center Street and worked on the grounds for the Provo Tabernacle. He also played a strong role in planning the Provo City Center Temple.
During his university days, Ray played halfback for BYU and tight end for the University of Utah—meaning he called both schools his alma mater. He also served his country in the U.S. Coast Guard. He graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from BYU and later received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in Communication. His career at BYU spanned over 42 years.
Ray believed in always putting others first. For his 90th birthday, he wanted all the school children in Provo to celebrate with him, so he donated enough funds to the Provo Rec Center to enable all the Provo elementary kids to go one day for free. Families who couldn’t afford to go to the Rec greatly appreciated Ray’s love and generosity.
A lecture series was started in honor of his beloved late wife, Ida Lee Beckham. Alumni and faculty have had the opportunity to inspire students and other staff members with their success in the communications industry through this lecture series. Speakers have ranged from professors and alumni to other communications professionals. Past lecturers include such distinguished individuals as Kevin Kelly, Jeff Hardy, Ed Carter, Brent Anderson and J.B. Haws.
Ray also created a scholarship for BYU communications students. Through this scholarship, his legacy in the communications field will live on.
Hundreds of students and faculty members who have walked through the halls of the Brimhall building will remember Ray, and future students will feel his lingering presence. He was strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he believed in helping the Lord’s church grow by doing missionary work through the communications field, and he helped the Church develop a strong media platform. Ray felt passionately that good media needs to be sent out into the world to counteract the bad.
The School of Communications would like to express its condolences to Ray’s second wife, Janette Hales Beckham, and his five children and their families. We are grateful beyond words for Ray’s contributions to the school. He will be greatly missed.
Read more about Ray Beckham’s life and contributions here.