Serving Western Wisconsin
Richard Beckham 10/27/2022

Richard Beckham 10/27/2022

Richard Hamilton Beckham Senior passed away on October 27, 2022. He touched countless community members, friends, and family with his sincerity, good humor, and community mindedness.

Born in Amory, Mississippi to Effie Belle (Greenhill) and Thomas Hamilton Beckham, he was the sixth of seven children and the only one to pursue a career in academia. After earning his English degree at the University of Mississippi and meeting his wife of 61 years, Sue Bridwell, they moved briefly to South Carolina, where they had their first son, Rich. Ten years and several more moves later “the twins”, Jennifer and Aran, arrived.

In early adulthood, Dick was inspired by the Civil Rights and Social Justice movements of the 1960s and by the expansiveness of the liberal arts. As an English Professor at UWRF for 34 years, nine of them as Chair, he enjoyed research and writing, but supporting students and connecting with colleagues was his truest love.

He embraced marriage as a partnership built on trust and mutual support. He would never be one to insist that family comes before all else, and yet to his three children he was a very special Dad, enveloping them in gentleness and affection, often making quiet sacrifices for them.

He balanced many healthy years in retirement between community service, time with grandchildren, social gatherings, and traveling with Sue. He loved photography and into his late 70s was spotted regularly riding his red one speed bike around River Falls. He is survived by his children, Rich, Aran, and Jennifer, their spouses, Amy, Lori, and Paul, and grandchildren, Elizabeth, Charlie, Emily, Cole, Tessa, Nick, and Alia. Just ten days after Dick died, Sue also passed on.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Community Arts Base (Click here to donate), River Falls Library Foundation (140 Union Street River Falls 54022), or UWRF English Department (Click here to donate) (Choose college of arts and sciences and in description put in UWRF English Department-Richard Beckham). A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, December 9, 2022 at 2:00PM at Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services (805 E Division Street) in River Falls with a visitation starting at 1:00PM. A reception will follow at Junior’s/Radisson Legacy Ballroom (100 Spring Street) with hors d’oeuvres provided. Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.

Click here to watch the livestream of Dick and Sue’s service.

19 Comments

  • Donna Gleason Posted October 29, 2022 4:07 pm

    A favorite professor in the English Dept. I have many fond memories of sitting in his classroom and taking part in the discussions. I enjoyed seeing him elsewhere around the city. I miss him already.

  • Charlie Corcoran Posted October 31, 2022 11:28 am

    I worked with Dick on several committee assignments at UW – River Falls. He was thoughtful, reflective, easy-going, with a quick smile. The consummate English professor. They don’t make ’em this way anymore! His presence on-campus has been missed. But his legacy lives on.

  • Ken Stofferahn Posted October 31, 2022 12:07 pm

    He welcomed me as a new faculty member years ago because he had taught my older brother. His warm inviting ways were always evident at our every meeting. Loved his sarcasm and wit.

  • Ogden Rogers Posted October 31, 2022 1:06 pm

    He was a colleague and a mentor who taught me humor when possible and anger when necessary. He modeled faculty leadership for me in every way.

  • Krista Spieler Posted October 31, 2022 1:44 pm

    Last time I saw Dick, he and wife Sue were shopping at Whole Earth co-op in River Falls. I overheard their banter: so much joy was there. Dick will be missed!

  • Brad Caskey Posted October 31, 2022 5:05 pm

    Great intellect. Amazing wit. Fantastic colleague. Will be missed by all.

  • Faye Perkins Posted October 31, 2022 5:22 pm

    Dick was an iconic professor at UWRF. Through the years, we worked on several committees together and would always stop to chat when seeing each other on campus or downtown. I will miss seeing Dick and taking about their trips to England and elsewhere. Rest in peace, Dick.

  • Kathryn Murphy Posted November 1, 2022 7:51 am

    What an amazing teacher. Influenced my life to go into education. Always took the time to stop and visit and ask about my family. Be assured, he touched many people. Rest well, dear friend.

  • Jill Berke Posted November 1, 2022 3:49 pm

    He was a gentle spirit with the kind nature of his southern roots. Dick’s dedication to his community, especially the arts and CAB, will be missed.

  • Debbie Keller Posted November 3, 2022 5:49 am

    What a great professor! I so enjoyed his classes. He was so knowledgeable but knew how to relate to college kids. He will be missed.

  • Marshall Toman Posted November 3, 2022 8:11 am

    Dick could always find the common ground. He was a great unifier, as will be the celebration of his life for those lucky enough to be able to attend.

  • Catherine Olson Posted November 5, 2022 2:49 am

    Wise gentle man who looked you right in the eyes with engaging conversation. Loving husband to Sue and all.
    So sad I won’t see him around with those big eyes and mouthy smile of greeting

  • Thomas R. Smith Posted November 5, 2022 1:58 pm

    Dick wielded a gentle wit and was an inveterate storyteller. Equally conversant in Shakespeare and folk dancing, he was interested in a great many things. He was always fun and enlivening to be around, and I’ll miss him. Prayers for Sue and the family.

  • Denise Haughian Posted November 5, 2022 9:19 pm

    Dick was a dear friend and colleague, a Southern gentleman, a wonderful host, and a brilliant leader. Deepest condolences to the family.

  • Bill King Posted November 5, 2022 10:17 pm

    Dr. Beckham – After spending all those long hours with you in your office dissecting Huck Finn, you looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and said, “Keep reading, my friend.” That certainly wasn’t the only advice you offered. Your students will never forget you, Dr. B. You’re the best.

  • Lisa DuRose Posted November 7, 2022 3:05 pm

    I was fortunate to be a student at UWRF when Dr. Beckham was the chair of the English Department. I was a first-generation student, unsure about my career path and he, along with many English faculty, nurtured my passion in literature. His advocacy and support enabled me to attend graduate school and led to a career teaching English at a community college. He modeled the best qualities in teaching and learning and I am deeply grateful to have been his student. My deepest sympathy to his family.

  • Lisa DuRose Posted November 7, 2022 3:08 pm

    I was fortunate to be a student at UWRF when Dr. Beckham was the chair of the English Department. I was a first-generation student, unsure about my career path and he, along with many English faculty, nurtured my passion in literature. His advocacy and support enabled me to attend graduate school and led to a career teaching English at a community college. He modeled the best qualities in teaching and learning and I am deeply grateful to have been his student.

  • Meg Swanson Posted November 22, 2022 1:52 pm

    Sue and Dick embodied the best of what it means to serve on a liberal arts faculty; They were
    committed to their institutions, their students, their community, and one another. They were smart, eccentric, and interesting; they didn’t take themselves too seriously which is really the best type of intellligence.

  • Marsha Hague Posted December 9, 2022 10:08 am

    I knew Dick and Sue through the UU Society in River Falls. Both will be greatly missed.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *