Thad Gordon Beasley, 87, of Conway, Arkansas, passed away on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, of natural causes.
Gordon was born on June 1, 1933, to Tommy and Patty Weaver Beasley in Fulton, Arkansas. Gordon was the youngest of seven siblings. After graduating from Hope High School in 1951, he went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Henderson State Teachers College, where he was a three-sport athlete in baseball, basketball, and football. Gordon was very active at Henderson, having been voted Mr. HSTC in 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955.
He was captain of the Reddie baseball team his senior year. He was a Phi Lambda Chi social fraternity. He graduated from Henderson in 1955 with a BSE in physical education.
After graduating from Henderson, Gordon married his college sweetheart Betty Guthrie Beasley and enlisted in the U.S. Army. Gordon served two years in the infantry as captain and was a member of the reserves for eight years. He went on to later receive his Master’s in Education from East Texas State University and was later awarded a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Arkansas.
While earning his degrees, he spent six years teaching science and coaching. His entry into higher education began at Henderson 1963 as assistant dean of men and later as vice president of students. He continued his career as vice president for student affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University where he also held the rank of professor. After eight years, Gordon accepted the position of vice president of student affairs at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. In addition to his administrative duties, he taught History of Higher Education as a full professor. In 1982, he became the vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Mississippi, where he also taught History of Higher Education as a full professor. He remained there until his retirement.
Gordon wrote and published extensively in state and regional publications. He was president of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Region 3 and was also active in national student activity related organizations.
During his career he helped dozens of young adults find scholarships and career paths. He delighted in the youthful pranks of kids that age, and came home with funny stories of the situations he’d been forced to handle. He was also an advocate for marginalized student groups long before it became the norm.
Gordon was a passionate Arkansas Razorback football fan. When the Hogs weren’t on, he could often be found on the golf course or among friends when he wasn’t at home. He loved gospel music and took piano lessons for many years in order to be able to play his favorite hymns.
Anyone who knew Gordon knew that he was the most loving father, husband, brother, uncle and cousin a family could ask for. He adored all his siblings – Tommy, Joyce, Eris, Jim, Margaret and Nina. He loved his nieces and nephews, his brothers and sisters-in-law, and all the cousins on both sides of the family. To Gordon, there was nothing in this world better than a family reunion, unless it was a high school reunion. He remained lifelong friends with a handful of Henderson Reddies and Hope High School Bobcats.
Gordon was predeceased by his wife, Betty Guthrie Beasley; his daughter, Jill Beasley Low; his parents; and his siblings, Tommy, Joyce, Margaret and Nina. Gordon is survived by his daughter, Stacy Soltis (Steve) of Roswell, Georgia; his sister, Eris Belk of Houston, Texas; grandsons, Josh Low (Jessica) of Mountain Home, Arkansas, Matt Low (Kristin) of Clarksville, Texas, Annie Soltis of Atlanta, Georgia, and Chris Soltis of Atlanta, Georgia; and five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by sister-in-law Barbara Guthrie Teeter (Ruskin) of Krum, Texas; and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, internment will be at a later date at East Memorial Gardens in Texarkana, Arkansas. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made to the Arkansas Foodbank.