Remembering a friend of Edwardsburg

Published 1:59 am Thursday, February 7, 2008

By Staff
I would be neglectful if I didn't have something to say about Dick Beckwith. Having read the obituary, there were many things left out about Dick that I think you should know. It would have been very difficult to write about everything that he did for Edwardsburg, but here are some of the things I know about him.
For those of you too young to have the pleasure of knowing Dick and for those of you who did know him, this should spark your memories of him.
I had the pleasure of sitting with Dick and his wife Adelaide this past fall. I went there one day and found them both sitting on lawn chairs in their garage doorway. They spent every nice day they could sitting outside and enjoying the outdoors and the beautiful weather. That day he showed me pictures of his house when he bought it and insisted I go inside so he could point out all of the changes he had made. He built on a big room, big enough at the back so that all of his family could sit down to holiday dinners.
Dick was an outdoors man. He had a greenhouse in which for many years he grew beautiful flowers and vegetables. He shared his flowers with the community by planting them in the planter in front of his State Farm office on Main Street.
He put some at the Library and the Fire Station and sometimes at the Village Hall. He loved to sneak them in public places along with the trees that he planted all over the village. The lane to the cemetery is lined with the trees he planted.
Often he donated the fruits of his green thumb and his green house to the Edwardsburg Golden Age Club to be used as door prizes. Everyone desired his beautiful vegetables and flowers.
At Golden Age luncheons he devised a method of lamps and plastic to keep the food warm and he always had a joke or story to tell.
Some years ago the two of us talked once about sowing wildflower seeds all over town, especially along the railroad tracks. He was always in favor of sprucing up the village.
If you ever saw a man on his hands and knees by the library, it was Dick. He was probably planting tulip bulbs to make the library look more inviting. The library was one of his pet projects. He mowed the grass and shoveled the snow. He sidewalk superintendented every inch of the addition. He even made them come back to do the pavers over in the front walkway because they were not straight and didn't meet his specifications.
For many years he was at the fire station when there was a fire. Not to fight the fire but to unofficially man the telephones and the radio.
When Dick turned 90, the Museum was in need of someone to drywall the old house. The wall board was up and taped but it needed the drywall applied.
Dick and his friend Otis Montgomery decided that they could learn to do the job and they did; walls, ceiling, and stairway, upstairs and downstairs.
Dick often could be seen driving his garden tractor from his house to the Museum pulling a small trailer behind him full of tools so that he could work in the yard and haul things away. He picked his own jobs and did what he thought needed to be done.
Many of Dick's friends have left us but here are some of the people he served with in the past. Otis Montgomery,Amerson Bowman, Jim Winter, Dorothy Smith, Tony Emenaker, Dean Balyeat, Allen Van Arsdal , Jim Locey, Will Armstrong, Jerry McNabb, and many more.
Once I saw a lady being interviewed on the TV who was celebrating her 100th birthday. When asked how it felt to be 100, she replied, "I want you to remember that I have seen the beginning of everything." Dick saw much of the beginning of Edwardsburg.
Dick was born in 1910, he lived in the area all of his life. He was married in 1934. It was at the time that the Chicago Road was named US 112, and it was paved from Five Points to Niles in 1939.
During World War II Dick was one of the Air Raid Wardens patrolling the streets to see that no lights were visible. Edwardsburg was his town and he took responsibility for it. He saw to it that things got done. When he couldn't get anyone to do it, he did it himself.
The last time I saw him he was working on a project. He was sorting his old penny collection. He had coffee cups from one of his favorite eating establishments, McDonalds, and he was sorting his collection of pennies by years into cups for each of the years. He had a big magnifying glass and a light to help him see the dates. It kept him busy when he had to be inside.
Even though he was involved in the big things, he saw to it that the little things got done. He was a thinker and a doer.
Could Edwardsburg have done without Dick? Yes, probably.
Is Edwardsburg better because of Dick Beckwith? Yes, definitely.
Richard Beckwith is a part of the history of Edwardsburg and should not be forgotten.
She is a third generation Edwardsburg resident.