- Ed Beck
- Hometown (Last School)
- Fort Valley, GA
- 1955-56, 1956-57, 1957-58
- June 28, 1936
Obituary – UK Men’s Basketball National Champion Ed Beck Dead at 83, UK Official Wildcat Website (October 17, 2019) by Deb Moore
SUN CITY, Ariz. – Ed Beck, a men’s basketball national champion, died Wednesday. He was 83.
Beck was a two-year captain (1956-58) under legendary head coach Adolph Rupp and was a tremendous leader for the Wildcats, particularly for the 1958 “Fiddlin’ Five,” who would go on to claim the national title.
A menace around the rim, Beck averaged more than 10 boards per game during the 1958 season. He logged 11.6 rebounds per game during the championship season and contributed 5.6 points per game. His best season came during his junior campaign when he averaged 9.6 points per game and 14.1 boards. Beck and the Wildcats captured Southeastern Conference titles during each of his final two campaigns.
Beck was voted an All-SEC Second Team performer by the Associated Press in 1957 and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 1958. He finished his career with an average of 10.0 rebounds per game, the third-highest total in UK history at the time.
“Ed Beck was an important member of the Kentucky basketball family,” UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said. “He cemented his place in UK lore as one of the great rebounders in program history and a leader of one of our most beloved teams. Seeing him and his teammates return home for the reunion of the 1958 team reunion earlier this year was truly special. We offer our condolences to Ed’s family and friends.”
Beck was known for overcoming adversity, which is why his leadership skills during the 1958 season became so vital. Following a loss in the 1957 NCAA Tournament, Beck lost his first wife, Billie, to Hodgkin’s disease in the offseason. Rupp and assistant coach Harry Lancaster attended Billie’s funeral in Georgia and returned to Lexington in time to speak at the team’s banquet. Rupp discussed at length what Billie meant to the team and dedicated the upcoming 1958 season in her memory.
Following his time with the Wildcats, Beck turned down an offer to play professional basketball with the New York Knicks, instead to join the ministry. He attended Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, for one year following graduation at Kentucky. He then preached at local churches to earn enough money to attend Candler Methodist Seminary at Emory University in Atlanta.
Beck served in the ministry for more than 50 years. In June of 1983, Colorado’s governor, Richard Lamm, proclaimed June 12 as Ed Beck Sunday in his honor for his dedicated work and service in the United Methodist Church, in the community and for his work in the organization of the Warren Village in Denver. Warren Village was constructed to support single-parent families endeavoring to become self-sustaining. At the time of its inception it was a unique ministry and one of the first of its kind.
Beck recently returned to Rupp Arena in February for the 1958 national championship reunion. He spoke glowingly of the team chemistry the 1958 team had that propelled the Wildcats to the national championship.
“You can imagine back in the ’50s how close this team was,” Beck said in February. “You have to remember we had 11 people on that team who graduated in 1958. É It was the main reason we won the tournament because we had played together for four years and knew each other’s moves. I knew what Vernon (Hatton) was going to do before he was going to do it. É It all came together. The maturity of the team was a big, big part of the championship.”
He is survived by his Faye, and sons Jon Ed, Stephen, Bradley and Daniel. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Epilogue to Book – A Love to Live By
In 1958, the year that UK won the NCAA championship, Ed Beck was voted the Southeastern Conference’s “Defensive Player of the Year” He was offered a contract by the New York Knickerbockers to play professional basketball, but he turned it down. The Venture For Victory tour to six countries of the Orient in the summer of 1958 ended just before his entrance into theological seminary. Though he planned to return to Georgia to attend Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, he was unable to do so financially. Instead, he attended Asbury Theological Seminary at Wilmore, just fourteen miles from the University of Kentucky. He spent one year there in an academic setting, preaching every weekend at local churches and community centers. These engagements earned him enough money to enter Candler Methodist Seminary at Emory the following year.
He was scheduled to graduate from Candler in the summer of 1961. His graduation was delayed six months, however, so that he could accept speaking engagements throughout the nation. He was also invited by World Vision, Inc., to be their college-high school speaker in their Tokyo, Japan, Crusade during the spring of 1960.
In the summer of 1962, he joined the National Headquarters of the Methodist Church in Nashville, becoming a staff evangelist of its General Board of Evangelism. He was one of four men who helped organize the Department of Evangelists, and eighteen months later was selected to direct two separate programs; The Department of Evangelists (later renamed the Department of New Life Ministries) and the S.T.E.M. project (Short Term Evangelistic Mission). The New Life Ministries helped local churches develop and carry out intensive evangelistic renewal and outreach programs. The S.T.E.M. project was geared to inner city and ghetto areas. For six years he and a team of fourteen people conducted these missions and trained pastors across the country in similar programs.
A small but very interesting facet of this program – interesting to Ed Beck, at least – was called “Frontier” or “Unconventional Evangelism.” These were programs designed to reach people in recreational areas such as national parks, ski resorts, and beaches. One of the programs, the “Ichthus Caravan” or “The Christ on the Beach” was conducted each spring at Daytona Beach, Florida, under Ed Beck’s leadership with the blessings of Daytona’s city fathers who financially underwrote the entire program.
Highly successful, it was produced on a large scale featuring afternoon beach entertainment with Christian overtones, and bandshell concerts with strategically located counseling booths staffed by youth-oriented advisors. These advisors included Christian entertainers and athletes from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization.
This program which continued from 1963 until 1967, inspired similar programs by other ministries in different areas. Out of its pioneering efforts stemmed such things as the familiar symbol “ICHTHUS,” now used on everything from T-shirts to bumper stickers; preaching in night clubs; and well-known entertainers sharing their faith.
In 1967, Ed Beck was selected by the Pentagon to tour European and North African military bases to conduct “Christian Leadership Training Labs” for military personnel.
By this time, he had remarried and in 1968, because he found himself away from home and family too much conducting evangelism programs, he happily accepted the pastorate of Warren United Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado.
It was an inner-city congregation and he felt particularly led to it because of his earlier experiences in the Short-Term Evangelistic Mission which involved ghetto ministries. When Ed Beck stepped into the pulpit at Warren United Methodist, he found only 250 weather-beaten, but willing, souls ready to join him in ministering to those around them engulfed in poverty.
But it was a Gideon’s Army. Together, the small group went to work and in six years they had completed a $3 million apartment complex called Warren Village, designed for single-parent families endeavoring to become self-sustaining. Today, it ranks as an unique ministry in helping single parents in transition to be re-educated and restored.
Looked upon as a model for similar units in other cities, it consists of ninety-six apartment units with a self-contained Day-Care Center able to care for over 125 children.
To qualify for residency, applicants must show a sincere desire for self-improvement and sign a covenant that they will live at Warren Village only until they are able to re-enter the world better equipped to maintain themselves and their children and remain off the welfare rolls.
The success of Warren Village is currently an impressive ninety-two percent.
With Warren Village well launched in 1973, Ed Beck was assigned by Bishop Melvin E. Wheatley, Jr., to a post in the United Methodist Church called “Minister to and for Society” an unusual new kind of ministry. In 1974, he became the first Methodist clergyman from Colorado to enter the corporate world as a business executive, still maintaining full clergy credentials. In this new work he became Vice-president of Operations for the Windmill Dinner Theater Corporation of Dallas, Texas, dedicated to offering the public uplifting family entertainment in a wholesome atmosphere.
In this new work, Ed Beck was the construction overseer of all five theaters located in various parts of the nation. He also supervised their personnel. During this time he served as a consultant to other theater corporations, advising and counseling with playwrights, plus working with many actors and actresses concerning the communication of faith in the secular theater.
In April of 1980, Ed Beck was assigned by Bishop Wheatley to the post of senior pastor of the First Methodist Church in Pueblo, Colorado, a steel manufacturing city of 100,000 population, located 100 miles south of Denver. After he assumed that pastorate, the church grew from 691 to 937 members.
Colorado’s governor, Richard Lamm, proclaimed June 12, 1983, as Ed Beck Sunday in honor of Rev. Beck’s dedicated work and service in the United Methodist Church, in his community and for his country – and especially for his work in the organization of Warren Village in Denver.
Also in June, 1983, Ed Beck accepted the pastorate of a new church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Less than three years old, the Sunrise United Methodist congregation numbers 400. Ed plans to lead this church in growth and development, and in the design and building of worship and nurturing structures.
Ed is married to the former Faye Stokley of Newport, Kentucky. They have four sons, Jon Ed, Stephen, Bradley and Daniel.