Clarence and Hazel Beck recognized the value of education and the power of philanthropy. The couple’s generous, decades-long support has enriched the University of Kansas and will continue to touch the lives of Jayhawks for generations.
Clarence was born in 1920 in Pratt, Kan. He spent summers working on the family farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle as drought and dust devastated the region. “God, what do I have to do to have money, not be a farmer, and I’ll do it,” he said in the 2012 Ken Burns documentary The Dust Bowl. “And that’s been my driving force.”
After graduating high school, he earned a bachelor’s in metallurgical engineering from KU in 1943. It was during this time he met his future wife, Hazel, who was superintendent of a hospital in Pratt. The couple had been married for 63 years when Hazel died in 2007.
After serving two years in the U.S. Army, Clarence began a distinguished 30-year career with General Electric Company. He was a pioneer in the nuclear power industry, receiving several awards and patents. KU honored him with the Distinguished Engineering Service Award in 1992. Clarence died in 2011.
The Becks were consistent supporters of the university and members of the Chancellors Club and the Elizabeth Watkins Society. The couple formalized their estate plans in 1995 including four charitable remainder trusts with KU as the beneficiary. Their much-needed, unrestricted support helps sustain the university’s highest priorities and realize goals that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Because of their flexibility, unrestricted gifts can be directed to unexpected opportunities and initiatives that meet KU’s ever-evolving needs.
“Clarence and Hazel were a delight to work with as they had a sincere commitment to KU’s role in changing people’s lives for the better,” said Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment. “That was their experience, and they wanted to make the same possible for others.”