By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
More than seven decades of ACU history gathered Wednesday afternoon to remember one of the university’s most revered and beloved figures.
Family, friends and colleagues remembered Garvin Beauchamp as a caring man who lived to serve during his time at the school, which spanned more than 50 years as a student, football coach, dean of students and vice president of student personnel services.
“My dad was a great man,” said Gary Beauchamp in delivering the eulogy to the several hundred who filled the University Church of Christ auditorium. “In 1937 he entered this campus, and Abilene Christian has never been the same.”
Beauchamp attended Abilene Christian College from 1937-1941. He was skipper of Sub T-16, Students’ Association president and football captain his senior year.
After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Beauchamp returned to ACC as an assistant football coach, taking a year off in 1949.
In 1950, he returned as head coach of the football team, leading the underdog Wildcats to an 11-0 record.
The 1950 team, whose players sang before every game and were dubbed “The Singing Christians,” became the only undefeated, untied college football team in the country with as many as 11 wins.
“That team is still very close,” said Jerry Mullins, who played halfback on the 1950 team, “but future reunions will not be the same without Coach Beauchamp.”
Alton Green, fullback and co-captain of that celebrated team, noted that Beauchamp died on the 52nd anniversary of the 11th and final victory in the famed Refrigerator Bowl.
“Many of us have spent 52 years grateful for what he did,” Green said. “To him, those kids sitting on the end of the bench were just as important as the starters.”
Gary Beauchamp and Green both recalled the coach washing his players’ uniforms and painstakingly cleaning the mud from their cleats, refusing help because “these are my boys.”
The surviving members of the 1950 team also led the congregation in singing “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.”
Beauchamp was named dean of students in 1956, marking the first of 35 years in which Beauchamp, or “Beech” as many called him, served as a student life administrator.
“I never knew a man who had a way with people like Garvin Beauchamp,” said university President Royce Money, who served as an associate dean under Beauchamp in the 1960s. He said the number of students whose lives Beauchamp had turned around was probably in the thousands.
Money said he remembered Beauchamp dismissing students from the school for disciplinary reasons with “tears in his eyes and a quiver in his voice” because he cared so much for them.
Beauchamp would often call dismissed students and encourage them to reenroll the next semester.
“I’ve also seen those students thank him,” said Money, who was joined in attendance by Dr. Bill Teague and Dr. John C. Stevens, the two surviving presidents under whom Beauchamp served.
In 1987, the university honored Beauchamp and his wife, Judy, for 50 years of service by naming after them the stone amphitheater at the base of the Tower of Light.