70-year employee of O.K. Foods dies at age 94

Gene Beckham worked at Arkansas feed mill

Alva “Gene” Beckham, 94, who worked for more than 70 years at an O.K. Foods Inc. feed mill, died December 7, 2020.

Beckham was born December 4, 1926, in Mulberry, Arkansas, and lived most of his life in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He married Susan Almeda “Peggy” Hayslip-Rector on January 22, 1947, in Fort Smith.

Beckham was employed at O.K. Foods for more than 70 years, taking time off to fight in World War II, stationed in Japan and Korea. He began his employment at O.K. Foods sewing feed sacks together, then worked shoveling grain out of the train cars and was promoted to superintendent for the mills in Fort Smith and Heavener for a combined 40 years. He retired in 1996, only to return three days later and finally retired in 2017.

A mural of Beckham by artist Guido Van Helten can be seen on the feed mill in Fort Smith.

He is survived by three sons, Darrell (Char), David (Patsy) and Daniel (Debbie); one daughter Delores (Greg Hurd); 11 grandchildren; 20 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife.

Pallbearers are Aaron Beckham, Brandon Beckham, Caleb Beckham, Beau Beckham, Malachi Beckham, Ethan Beckham and Daniel Beckham. Honorary Pallbearers are employees of O.K. Foods.

The funeral service will be December 10 at Edwards Funeral Home in Fort Smith with burial to follow at Fort Smith National Cemetery will full military honors.