George Beck The captain

Remembering George Beck: Oh Captain, my captain

Robert Ellison ’79 – Jacksonville University

I never met George Beck, but I did talk to him once on the phone.

Robert Ellison 1978 and now

In 1976, I was chosen to be scribe. Quite frankly, I was not a very good scribe. My notes were chaotic and brief. To make matters worse, I kept forgetting to mail my notes to the HQ. Twice the rex told me that the HQ was complaining that they weren’t receiving them from me, and each time I told the him that I would take care of it.

Late on a Friday night, I was sitting in my dorm room when the phone rang. I answered it, and a very deep sounding voice said, “I need to talk to the scribe.” 

I said, “that’s me.”

The voice said, “well, you are not a very good one.” 

Thinking this was a prank call coming from one of my brothers, I asked, “who is this?”

The voice said, “this is George Beck from Pi Lam National, and I’m calling to find out why you aren’t doing your job.”

I was startled, and responded by stuttering, “I didn’t want to be scribe. I was drafted. I’m working a 40-hour full time job off campus as I work my way through college, and I have very little time to do the scribe job.”

George said, “nonsense, you got the job, so do the job, because your brothers and our whole fraternity depend on you.”

He continued, “you scribes write up the day to day, week to week history of your chapter and your brothers lives. So, fifty years from now, people will know who you and your brothers were and what you went through because you document it.”

I told him, “I’m sorry.”

George said, “don’t be sorry, either do the job or resign. The scribe’s job is important.”

George continued, “talking to you reminds me of my navy days during the war. As the scribe, you’re the lowest officer in a Pilam chapter, like an ensign on a destroyer. Ensigns are all fresh young guys that mean well, but don’t know very much. They essentially learn how to lead on the job. The senior officers have to come down hard on ensigns to teach them how to be tough and how to lead men.”

“So mister ensign scribe of Florida Delta Tau in Jacksonville, consider me to be your captain, and that I just chewed you out before the mast. Get your act together, and get your notes to me, or next time you’ll walk the plank in front of your brothers. I have to go now. I have other scribes to call. Take care of yourself.”

Frankly, I was inspired, and told myself to do a better job as scribe. That was 45 years ago. But, I can still hear George’s voice in my ear as I write this.


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George generously funded many scholarships in his retirement. To honor George, we are asking brothers to help grow the fund George created to recognize our outstanding undergraduates. Anyone wishing to honor George may designate a donation to the George A. Beck Fund.