When a French daredevil walked an 1,100-foot tightrope
spanning Niagara Falls, it was headline news in 1859.
On subsequent tightrope trips crossing the falls without
falling, Charles Blondin even carried a man on his back.
Folklore says that before setting out across the cable,
Blondin would ask curious onlookers if they thought
he could make it successfully to the other side. Invariably,
someone brash and confident would enthusiastically step
forward betting on Blondin as a sure thing. At that,
Blondin would invite the affirming respondent to accompany
him across the tightrope on his back-which usually brought
a firm "no thank you" and a speedy disappearance
into the crowd.
It is one thing to observe; a different thing to participate.
Our dear friend, Lucille Stewart Beeson, who died January
8, 2001, just into her 96th year, was the last of a
remarkable family foursome that forever changed Samford
University. Her husband, Dwight Moody Beeson, with his
brother, Ralph Waldo Beeson, and sister-in-law, Orlean
Bullard Beeson, shared a common concern for others,
a love for Samford University, a keen sense of responsibility
and stewardship of possessions.
Lucille Stewart Beeson
their father, Dr. John Wesley Beeson, both Ralph
and Dwight became serious Christians, aware of the
importance of education. They also came early to
associate with Frank Park Samford, Sr., and to invest
in Liberty National Life Insurance Company, which
became Torchmark Corporation. They lived modestly,
saved carefully and invested wisely. Investments
made in the '30s and '40s compounded over the years,
accumulating a fortune for each brother. They used
only small proportions for themselves and held most
for the Lord's work, for ultimate charitable purposes.
Their affinity for Samford University was traceable
to their regard for Mr. Samford, their appreciation
for a young company protege, Gerow Hodges, and other
Samford trustees, as well as former President and Mrs.
Leslie S. Wright. Their involvement in the life of our
University started with small gifts and large interest.
A divinity school, an education school, a university
center, dormitories, a healing arts center, a law library:
they are among their kindnesses visible every day. But
beyond the obvious are endowments in the millions for
scholarships and for dozens of objectives that enrich
the lives of students and faculty every day and will
do so far into the future.
Beeson gifts to Samford total more than $100 million,
99 percent of it coming in the past 20 years. Their
generosity has been transforming, lifting Samford to
levels only dreamed of in the past. That is why Beeson
will forever be a revered name at Samford University.
Beeson Family members did not just observe, they participated.
Their earthly journeys may have come to an end, but
they will keep on participating in the lives of students
and faculty, making Samford better for as long as it
To observe their participation inspires us to participate!
Thomas E. Corts
Dwight Moody Beeson