Veteran Worker Of OK Foods Inspires Unexpected Mural In Fort Smith

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- The story behind the man towering over Downtown Fort Smith is more than 70 years in the making.

Gene Beckham, or "Beck" as everyone knows him, began working for OK Foods during the 1940's after returning from World War II and has done just about every single job there.

"Working with a bunch of good people, you're working with a bunch of good people," Beck said. "That's the main thing. It was just one big happy family."

Years after his retirement, Beck still proudly wears his OK Foods shirt.

"This company has done a lot for Fort Smith, a lot for the state of Arkansas and a lot for the state of Oklahoma," Beck said.

He said he first retired in 1991, but returned to work three days later.

"When I came out of the service, I come through here the day I come out, and I came back to work the next day," Beck said. "I've been here ever since."

Beck's belt buckle is one of the most detailed parts of the mural, but it's even more detailed in his memory.

"My grandkids got this for me in 1991 out in Florida when I made a trip out there," Beck said.

For years to come, Beck is going to be a vivid part of the place he loved to work.

"It feels good," Beck said. "I like it, it's something different. They can look at it for a long time."

The mural of Beck was done by artist Guido Van Helten and is apart of the Unexpected Project.

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