Helen Beckham

Helen June Beckham, who worked to place Marion County Park and Lake on the National Historic Register and raise funds for a life-size bronze statue of a Civilian Conservation Corps worker, died Jan. 17.

She was born Aug. 18, 1932, to William Irvan and Julia Stuart Perkins Barney in Tonkawa, Okla. The family moved to El Dorado when she was 18 months old. Her father died of pneumonia when she was 6.

She moved to Planeview with her mother and sister when she was in sixth grade, and she graduated from Planeview High School in 1950.

She married Dwight Beckham Sr. on March 21, 1951. They met in high school band. They moved to Fort Sill, Okla., and later to Valley Center. Helen graduated from Wichita State University in 1968 and became a teacher until retiring in 1991.

She started running at age 45 and ran the first of 10 marathons at age 48.

In 2000, she and her husband built a home at Marion County Park and Lake, where they worked to preserve and recognize the lake’s history. They moved to Hesston in 2010 to be closer to family and services.

She is survived by her husband, Dwight Beckham Sr.; three children, Christine Carlton of Hesston, Jan Hodges of Broken Arrow, Okla., and Dwight Beckham Jr. of Newton; two siblings, Edwin Leon of Richmond, Va., and Lena Marie of El Dorado; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at First United Church of Christ, 210 E. 4th St., Newton. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Petersen Funeral Home in Newton.

Memorial funds have been established with Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice and Caring Hands Humane Society.

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