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Helen Beckham

January 17, 2014

Helen June Barney was born in Tonkawa, Oklahoma to William Irvan and Julia Stuart Perkins Barney on August 18, 1932. She had two older siblings, Edwin Leon and Lena Marie. When Helen was 18 months of age, the family moved to ElDorado, KS. At the age of six, her father died of pneumonia and her mother went to work to support the family. Helen attended Washington Elementary School from kindergarten to sixth grade. During Helen’s 6th grade year, she, along with her mother and sister (her brother was in the Navy) moved to Planeview, southeast of Wichita. They resided in a housing development for Boeing workers where her mother was employed during WWII. Helen graduated from Planeview High School in 1950. The high school band is where she met Dwight, her future husband. After graduation, she and Dwight were married on March 21, 1951. In March of 1952, she moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to join Dwight who was in the 97th Army Band. Their first child, Christine, was born while at Ft. Sill. In 1954, they moved to Wichita where Dwight continued his college studies and played in the Wichita Symphony. The family grew with the birth of Jan in 1956 and Dwight Jr. in 1958. Upon completing his master’s degree, Dwight moved the family to Valley Center, Kansas where he became band director. Helen began attending Wichita State University, graduating in 1968. She taught at Maize, KS for one and a half years. When Dwight was offered the band director job in Newton, Helen was hired to teach at Washington School. She later taught at Chisholm Middle School, Suncrest, Lincoln, and Northridge, retiring in 1991. Her running career started at the age of 45 and at the age of 48 she completed her first of ten marathons. Helen, along with her husband, was passionately involved in historic preservation. In 2000, they built a home at Marion County Park and Lake. She was responsible for placing the Park and Lake on the National Register and raised the necessary funds to erect a life-size, bronze statue of a Civilian Conservation Corps worker. Helen and Dwight moved to Hesston in 2010 to be closer to family and services. Helen was preceded in death by her father, William Irvan Barney, her mother, Julia Perkins Barney Chapman, her sister-in-law Dolores Barney of Richmond, VA and her brother-in-law J.B. Waltman of ElDorado, KS. She is survived by her husband, Dwight Beckham Sr., three children: Christine (Robert) Carlton of Hesston, KS; Jan (Dallas) Hodges of Broken Arrow, OK; and Dwight Jr. of Newton, KS. She is also survived by six grandchildren: Steve (Heather) Girk of Bradenton, FL; Stuart (Brittni) Girk of Lenexa, KS; Julia Carlton of Hillsboro, KS; Russel Beckham of Newton, KS; Sidney Beckham of Newton, KS; and Lauren Hodges of Broken Arrow, OK, four great-grandchildren, four nieces, four nephews, several great nieces and nephews and her siblings: Edwin Leon of Richmond, VA; and Lena Marie of ElDorado, KS.

Petersen’s Funeral Home in Newton is in charge of arrangements. A memorial service will be held at The First United Church of Christ, 210 E. 4th St. in Newton on Saturday, January 25th at 11:00 am. There will be a visitation at Petersen’s Funeral Home Friday Jan. 24 from 6:00 to 8:00. Memorials have been established with Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice and Caring Hands Humane Society.


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3 thoughts on “Helen Beckham

  1. Dear Dwight,
    I just read of Helen’s passing. I am so very sorry for your loss. I hope you can find peace in all your wonderful memories and knowing you will meet again some day in heaven. Helen was one of the most awesome people I have ever had the blessing of knowing! She was a true light in our world! I’m sorry I cannot make the service but I will be thinking about you, my friend. Please come visit us in Marion again sometime soon and take good care of yourself! Love, Margo

  2. Mrs. B I’m so sorry I never had the chance to tell you how much you meant to me and how influential you were in my life. I love you dearly.

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