Sun Devils and Heroes

Sun Devils and Heroes:

A Second Attempt at the ASU Archives

 By Robert Allen Beckvall

I am going to write something new.  A family history concerning our many Arizona State University alumni, the good things they have done for the state of Arizona, and even those that have done good in the state while attending or working for other public universities.  Using the saying about the apples not falling too far from the tree, I am proud to be an apple whose family tree has grown proudly in Arizona desert soil, right in the heart of Tempe.  I hope this will suffice as my current professional writing.

The requirement from my professor Dr. McBride, who was one of the top men in his field at ASU when it came to Arizona history, was to write something about our “Mining Town Family”.  Dr. McBride was such a great educator and caretaker of Arizona history, he taught me at both Corona del Sol High School and ASU, both in Tempe.  He worked at the university and this top high school at the same time.

You figure that a man who had probably heard every story about Arizona, would not expect anything that would excite him in an undergraduate history course.  But, after I had interviewed Oma Johnson, from the Globe-Miami copper town area about her copper crusher foreman husband that had worked in the mines, he was so impressed with the paper, he asked me to enter it in the ASU archives.  This made my family, Sun Devils all, very proud. My mother was especially proud, as she was the second member of the family from Miami, Arizona that had made the trek to Tempe to attend ASU.

My mother’s aunt,  who is the miner’s sister, had gone to the Teacher’s College in Tempe.  She had attended, and become an Arizona educator before ASU was called ASU.  It came at a stiff price, as my grandfather supported her degree by going into the army.

The unfairness of my grandfather having to pay for his sister’s degree happened because the owners of the mine, who lived on the hill, did not award the siblings the scholarships to what was to become ASU.  These siblings, who were ranked 1st or 2nd in the high school senior classes of Miami HS, and fully fluent in English and Spanish, had to watch as the scholarships were awarded to those fortunate enough to be from a different socio-economic class.  They came from the wrong side of the tracks.  Add to this the fact that my grandfather’s dad had died when he was ten.  He had to be the man of the family while still a teenager.  So he went into the army to pay for his sister’s degree in Tempe.

Our family has had dealings in education at other Arizona universities.  Our uncle was the head of the English department at Northern Arizona University.  Your friendly narrator earned an MA from the University of Arizona in multicultural learning disorders under Dr. Todd Fletcher.  I am actually the third member of the family to go into education, and one of several veterans.  I even took a turn at working in the Veteran’s Services Office of ASU, which is part of the registrar’s office.  I worked for a great man named Richard Wade.  This office is now named after soldier and ASU great Pat Tillman.  An admired hero.

We have established our ASU lines, but barely touched on the other family alumni and what they have done for the school, the state of Arizona, and folks in general.

The daughter of the miner went to ASU.  There, she met a hard charging man who was making a name for himself in the college of business, where he received his BS and MS in accounting.  In his career at ASU, he received a single B grade, which he argued mightily to get it changed to an A so he would have the perfect 4.0.  He had another surprise in mind.

Jerome Marvin Beckvall passed the CPA exam with an almost perfect mark on the first attempt.  They created a plaque for him, which for many years adorned the wall of the ASU college of business.  He was recruited heavily by many CPA firms, and went with top company Touch-Ross.  His wife dropped out of ASU to have her babies, who would both become ASU alumni.

The son is writing this, putting his ASU English degree to some use, while the daughter followed in her father’s footsteps.  She earned a management degree, and became the office manager for the Dean of the Business College.  She began a relationship with an ethics professor from ASU that has lasted to this day, as she edits her textbooks, helps with test banks, and books her speaking engagements; she is her general right hand woman.

This is not the end of the Tempe, Arizona connection.  Do you remember that lady that had dropped out of ASU?  She went on to earn top marks at an Arizona business college.  She ended up taking a job at the Tempe Police.  She met someone there who would serve both Tempe and ASU proudly, and went on to marry her daughter.  The copper miner’s daughter worked her way up from the Tempe Police, to the City of Tempe.  The matriarch of the ASU-Tempe family now spends her retirement as the President of the Lionesses in Prescott, Arizona.  Her husband is the former president of the Lions Club.  Her daughter continues to work with the ASU ethics professor, while the former Tempe policeman worked with children in the court system as a volunteer advocate for their welfare.  They have moved to Prescott, along with the former ASU CPA.

The daughter of the former policeman & textbook editor earned top marks at NAU, and is now chasing her dream of becoming a vet, helping out Arizona animals.  She has travelled as far as Costa Rica to work with exotic animals.  Their son went to chef school and is working in a world class resort in Scottsdale, while his bilingual children attend a good Arizona elementary school, splitting time between the Prescott, Tempe and Mexican families.

The son of the ASU Arizona businessman and the Lionesses President, started to work with kids when he was seventeen years old.  He took a summer job through the City of Tempe, with a childrens hospital.  He began coaching kids at the age of eighteen.  While in the army, he volunteered for head start, headed up a reading tutoring program, coached kids on army and air force bases, and worked with abused children.  He worked in Mexico in education, was a guest in China at a sports/academic facility, and taught a tennis lesson at a deaf and blind school, while the principal did sign language for him.  He drove and counseled gang members, seniors and special needs folks.  He coached Special Olympics, and was asked to be the National Chairman for the USPTA Special Needs Tennis Program.

This educator and coach has gone on to teach in public, private, charter, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist and a business school.  He has worked with PreK-12th grades, and has worked at Mesa Community College and Arizona State University in various positions while earning his undergraduate degree.  He has volunteered time and money through sports at the following: Ronald McDonald House, Toy for Tots, American Heart Association, Raise a Racquet for Kids, Summer of Tennis, and other special needs organizations in Arizona, Colorado, and Hawaii.

Currently he is working as a special education teacher, regular classroom teacher, and coach at both public and private schools in Hawaii.  He works at schools that need experienced educators with many disadvantaged kids that have socio-economic needs, special education needs, and those that need help with English as their second language.

The goal is to have a world class university, team with the DOE-Hawaii, and work with the Sullivan Center at Iolani School to produce real world best teaching practices for the kids and the special needs classroom.  This is the best education leadership and innovation, as current practices in the brain sciences, the pedagogy of special education, the latest in medical work, and the best ideas in technology will all be brought to the special kids by this educator with much help from various factions from the education community in Hawaii, Arizona and beyond.

A lifetime of service from the family in education through Arizona universities, and a lifetime of service through soldiering, volunteering, coaching, and of course teaching and working with special needs kids has been gladly given.  I look to continue a lifetime of service in pursuit of the highest degree in education and then post-doctoral work, that will get right to the heart of the matter in both classrooms and sports courts, helping to have young people live better and pursue their dreams.

As a many time team and doubles champion under the guidance of USPTA Professional James Munsil and Tempe area educator/coach Robert Cox, you first work hard as an individual.  Then, you carefully and wisely choose your TEAM & PARTNER.  From there you take on all challenges, like the challenges of teaching and coaching.  I am asking you to be a teammate and a partner, so that we can champion best practices in the lives of children and to bring a leadership and innovation through action.

The daughter of the educator/coach is a scholar/athlete and has worked with her father at Buddhist, Christian, and public schools.  She has done volunteer time at a senior home, for the USTA and at her own school.  She has donated items to her former elementary school in Waikiki, and will try to follow in the footsteps of her family who is listed in the Who’s Who of Chinese doctors which goes back twelve generations or so beginning with her mother, grandmother, and great grandfather.  Another good apple, from a tree in China.


APRIL 6, 2015

Arizona State Degrees Awarded to our family:

Teacher’s College-Teaching Degree (ASU)-aunt, ASU-BS & MS Accounting-father, ASU-BS Management-sister, ASU-BA English-RAB, ASU-BS Business-stepsister, UA-MA Multicultural LD-RAB, NAU-BS Psychology & BS Biology-niece

Worked at or Attended Arizona State Schools:

NAU-Head of English Department-uncle, ASU-mother & brother in law, great niece and nephew-AZ elementary school, Business College-mother


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