Franklin Beckwith '59 Donates $60,000 to B-CU
Franklin Beckwith, class of 1959, sat in the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation House recently and reminisced about his days at the University. “It was a small campus then, only a couple of buildings. We saw Mrs. Bethune every day and she worked so hard to give us everything we would need to succeed,” he said. “She gave her all to make sure we had everything we needed.”
Beckwith, who is blind, couldn’t see the expanse of the current campus. But, he said he wants to be a part of educating the next generation and contribute to the school’s growth. Thus, he proudly delivered a check for $60,000 to Bethune-Cookman University, and quietly asked that the funds be used to help current students pay for their education.
“I had the G.I. Bill to pay for everything, but oh my goodness some of my classmates struggled to pay their way,” Beckwith said. “But they hung in there and made sure they graduated. Mrs. Bethune did all she could for students and I want to do my part, too.”
Beckwith served in the United States Army from 1941 to 1945, and was stationed in Europe during World War II. After leaving the service, he worked for several years as a truck driver and in construction. It was the promise of a free education that led him to B-CU.
“The G.I. Bill was introduced and someone encouraged me to apply to Bethune-Cookman. I was accepted right away and enrolled as an education major,” Beckwith said.
Taking up residence in Cookman Hall, Beckwith quickly became acclimated to college life. “I was real popular because I was one of only two students with a car,” he said. “We would drive that ‘52 Buick to 2nd Avenue and visit the stores there, watch people walking up and down the street. It was a great time, people were so good to me. I felt like I was with family.”
At the end of his senior year, Beckwith recalls, the secretary, Mrs. Bailey, hosted a party for the graduates at the beach. “Everybody was in their bathing suits, and we had a cook out, lots of food and so much fun! It was a great way to end my collegiate career.”
Beckwith became a teacher at Phyllis Wheatley elementary and Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary schools in Miami-Dade County. The Miami resident said he will never forget his days at B-CU, or his time spent with Mrs. Bethune.
“She was a wonderful example for us” he said. “Mrs. Bethune made it possible for me to become a success and I want to pass that on to our students today.”
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About Bethune Cookman University:
Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000. For more information, visit www.cookman.edu.