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10 September 2009

Cliff Beckett

Our church (Apostolic Life Cathedral) celebrated the homegoing of a precious man of God Tuesday. Although I've only been in Huntington, WV for about four months now, I remember my first Friday night at the Greene Kitchen Activity Center and the kind man I met there. The following is an article published about that man:

Beckett remembered for giving back to community

September 10, 2009 @ 12:00 AM


The Herald-Dispatch

Many words have been used the last few days to describe Cliff Beckett. Among them have been hero, hard-working, Christian, compassionate, faithful, gentle giant, sweet spirit, shy, peaceful and mentor.

Nearly 1,000 people filed through the doors of Apostolic Life Cathedral in Huntington Tuesday night to pay their final respects to the man everyone -- child and adult alike -- called "Mr. Cliff."

Beckett, 46, died Sunday, Sept. 6, in Cabell Huntington Hospital, where he had been since a Sept. 1 motorcycle wreck in Huntington. He was laid to rest in Forest Memorial Park, Milton, on Wednesday morning.

"He was evidence that an employee, no matter what position they hold in the schools, has an impact on students," said Jedd Flowers, director of communications for the Cabell County Board of Education.

"Mr. Cliff was always there to encourage kids," said Becki Carpenter of Huntington. Her sons Isaac and Isaiah were students on Beckett's bus. "If a child missed a day of school, Mr. Cliff would ask the other kids if they were OK. He genuinely cared."

Formerly a school bus driver, Beckett had switched positions to night shift maintenance. The reason? To spend more time mentoring students and ministering to the community, said Dave Stephens, an Elder at his church, Apostolic Life Cathedral.

"Mr. Cliff" was more than a mentor to students at the county's Alternative School, Flowers said. Beckett also delivered Summer Lunch Program meals on a daily basis; quietly provided money to teachers to buy clothes or shoes for students who needed them; and paid for trips to King's Island amusement park to recognize kids who maintained good grades.

Beckett himself was recognized by the school board. He was named Service Employee of the Year for 2002-2003.

Beckett maintained his job with the county schools, drove for charter bus companies on the weekends and had a heating and air conditioning business.

And for the last 17 months, Beckett provided a meal feeding up to 200 people every Friday night in the Guyandotte community, Stephens said.

This was paid for from Beckett's own pocket. He didn't always know where the money was going to come from for the Friday night feed, but said on more than one occasion, "God will open a door," Stephen recalled, estimating it cost at least $300 every week, depending on the menu.

Beckett never in 17 months missed seeing the doors opened at the family life center of the church to provide a meal on Friday nights to those wanting one, Pastor Edwin Harper told friends and family gathered at the memorial service Tuesday night.

Just what will the legacy of "Mr. Cliff" be?

"Helping kids become better adults," Flowers said. "He was a living example of how to treat others."

Stephens said the church is going to attempt to continue the Friday night meals, something Beckett did to "bring the community together." There was no official tie to the church, no mandatory service attendance to take part in the meal, Stephens said.

So why was this man so concerned with making the world -- his community -- a better place by helping folks crossing all boundaries of age, social and legal status?

"He was a little wild growing up," Stephens said. "He didn't want to see kids travel the road he'd taken."

Beckett is survived by his wife Donna, daughters Sarah and Hannah, and his parents, John and Dorothy Barnett Beckett of South Point, Ohio.