Ethel Beckham was born in Paducah, Kentucky and moved to Miami in 1923. She attended Dade County Public Schools from Kindergarten at Riverside Elementary through her graduation from Miami High in 1937.
She met Walter Beckham in Junior High at Ada Merrit and marched with him in graduation from Miami High. They married during the war and had three children: Barbara, Walter III, and Jimmy. They now have four grandchildren: Jonathan and Rebecca Rice, and Justin and Blake Beckham.
After serving in volunteer work in the community for years, Mrs. Beckham ran for the School Board in 1968. She served 16 years on the School Board and loved every minute of it. She said that it seemed everything she had ever learned prepared her for the job. She took office at the time of the statewide teacher strike, and then experienced court ordered desegregation. Those were turbulent times for the community.
Mrs. Beckham served as president, on the Florida School Boards Association, as well as the Southern Region of the National School Boards Association. She served on State Boards in various capacities, and was appointed on the Board of National Career Education in Washington D.C.
“There is nothing to compare the feeling to — when feeling that what you do hopefully makes a difference to the next generation.” Mrs. Ethel Koger Beckham states, “What a privilege to have had that opportunity.”