J. L. ‘Jay’ Beckham, 91, of Hot Springs, passed away on July 4, 2018, at Fall River Hospital in Hot Springs.
Jay was born February 18, 1927, into a farming family to Luke Marcus and Frankie Lou (Warr) Beckham, at Prairie Hills, Texas. He attended Hallsburg Elementary School in Hallsburg, Texas, and Riesel High School in Riesel, Texas, for 3 ½ of his 4 years. At midterm of his senior year (1944), he moved with his family and graduated from Bruceville-Eddy High School in Eddy, Texas, in May of that year. His parents farmed in the Bethany Community, west of Lorena.
Jay’s nursing degree was earned at Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Waco, Texas, and his associate degree from Temple Junior College in Temple, Texas. He continued his education with courses from Baylor University, University of Texas and the University of Colorado/Denver. He proudly served two terms in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II and a 1 ½ year tour during the Korean Conflict until his honorable discharge. Jay’s nursing career began at the VA Hospital at Temple, Texas, as an operating room nurse. He then left government service and was employed in industrial nursing at the Chance-Vought Aircraft Corporation at Dallas, Texas. He returned to government service in 1955, serving at Marlin, Texas, until 1962. He served at the Denver VA Medical Center from 1962 through 1967. His career from 1967 until his retirement was at the VA Medical Center in Hot Springs, where he served as day clinical nursing supervisor, utilization review coordinator under Nursing Service. In 1978, he served under the Chief of Staff and later the Center Director in his position as Health Services Review Organization Coordinator. He continued in this assignment until his retirement from Federal Service on August 1, 1986, at Hot Springs. He was also active on many VA Center special committees and programs including the Equal Employment Opportunity Program as member and counselor. Following his VA retirement, he was employed on September 8, 1986, as the administrative assistant to the director of McColley’s Chapel of the Hills Funeral Home in Hot Springs. He served there until the establishment was sold on June 16, 1987.
Residing in Hot Springs since 1967, he was once an active member of the Lions and Hot Springs Elks Lodge and lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He enjoyed helping people and believed in being a positive contributing member of any team. His professionalism, willingness to assist one and all, his courtesy and cheerfulness were just a few of the qualities he exhibited.
Jay is survived by his sister, Helen Beckham Uptmor of Hallsburg, Texas; as well as several nieces and nephews.
Preceding Jay in death was his wife, Freda in 2008; his parents; brothers, Leonard Marcus Beckham; Henry Milton Beckham; Maurice Beckham; Roy Lee Beckham; Clyde Beckham; and sister, Florence.
Visitation was held Wednesday, July 11, 2018, at Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home in Hot Springs. Committal services followed at Evergreen Cemetery in Hot Springs.
Jay’s family asks that memorials be given in memory of Jay to the donor of your choice.
Arrangements have been placed in the care of Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home, Hot Springs, SD.