Ralph Beckwith of Slaty Fork graduated from the University of Hard Knocks at Alderson-Broaddus College on June 4. The University of Hard Knocks recognizes people who have made a success of their life without benefit of higher education.
Beckwith is the president of Beckwith Lumber Co. He began his first sawmill operation on his farm in Linwood, near Slaty Fork and later acquired another sawmill to start the current Beckwith Lumber Co. As his business grew, he employed workers from three counties and brought his four children into the business as they grew older. In 1965, the mill he worked so hard to build was destroyed by fire. After rebuilding, the mill caught fire again in 1985 and 1993, but because of a concrete and steel structure, the mill withstood the fire and still thrives today.
Beckwith currently has timber in 15 counties and has a trucking company, a dry kiln, log yards and a cattle business. In 2003, he was runner-up for Entrepreneur of the Year for Manufacturing in West Virginia and was selected as a member of the 2010 West Virginia Business Who's Who by The State Journal. He is a director for the West Virginia Forestry Association. His sawmill won Sawmill of the Year in 1995, and also that year, he and his wife, Glenda, received the West Virginian of Year Award. He is an avid supporter of the community and serves as a deacon for the Big Springs Presbyterian Church.
Membership into the University of Hard Knocks is open to anyone who does not posess a bachelor's degree but whom, through the exercise of persistence, diligence and hard work, has achieved a balance of financial success, civic service and other life goals indicating a successfully self-made individual. For more information or an application, call 304-457-6202.