F. William Beckwith, best known as Bill, passed away at his Boone, Iowa, home on July 30. He was 91.
Mr. Beckwith believed in sustainability and resourcefulness, qualities that led to the continued success of Fareway Stores Inc., the Iowa-based company that his father, Paul S. Beckwith, pioneered with partner Fred Vitt in 1938. Mr. Beckwith—born the youngest of four children to Paul and MaryEllen Beckwith in Diller, Nebraska, in 1927—grew up learning the grocery business alongside his dad while serving customers and sweeping floors. However, he left his own mark on the company with his innovative design of the Fareway warehouse and distribution center. This project modernized the company’s approach to maintaining an efficient system.
After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Mr. Beckwith returned to Iowa, where he worked his way up through the family business as assistant manager, manager and supervisor. In 1981, he was elected president of Fareway and added the CEO title in 1985. He worked his way up to the top as chairman of the board until his retirement in 2010. He remained a stockholder to maintain his father’s vision of a company that provided opportunity for all people, emphasizing a manager’s autonomy to build their own legacy within the success of the Fareway family.
Mr. Beckwith believed the generosity of communities across the state of Iowa were instrumental in Fareway’s success. As an avid philanthropist he, with his wife Jodie, were proud to give back to the growth and development of organizations such as Camp Courageous and other Iowa-based educational programs.
Upon his retirement, Mr. Beckwith traded in his Fareway tie for his old boots and jeans to continue his stump grinding hobby, moving trees, fishing and driving his John Deere Gator. He was active in the Boone community, a member of the VFW, American Legion and First Presbyterian Church of Boone.
Mr. Beckwith encouraged his family to contribute their natural talents to both Fareway and their community, and they have done so with zeal and grace. He is survived by his wife of 12 years, Jodie Beckwith; two daughters—Dr. Paula Sue Beckwith and Dr. Mary Kristine Moore (David); a son, Paul James Beckwith; stepchildren, Mark Almquist, (Debbie), Alexandra Longanecker de Lazcano (Javier), Samantha Wilen, and Race Wilen; grandchildren, Harry Moore and Aaron Moore; stepgrandchildren, Amy Almquist and Andy Almquist; several great-grandchildren, in-laws, nieces, nephews and cousins.
He is preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, PauLine Cramer and EvaLine Wiltse; and one brother, Richard D. Beckwith.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Camp Courageous. Mr. Beckwith was known to say flowers last only a day or two, but an investment in education and hard work lasts a lifetime.
Per Mr. Beckwith’s request, there will be no visitation or public funeral service.