FLORENCE (WBTW) — Francis Marion University will celebrate the life of legendary Florence family physician and community activist Dr. Roswell Nathaniel Beck, Sr. with a unique bronze statue on the public plaza in front of the new Luther F. Carter Center for Health Sciences in downtown Florence.
The 500-pound, six-and-a-half-foot high bronze statue depicts Beck examining a young child. It will be placed near a linear fountain on the plaza, and will be a focal point of Irby Street-W. Evans Street intersection, where the health sciences center is located.
The statue will be installed later this summer, just before the Carter Center opens for classes this fall.
Dr. Fred Carter, FMU’s president, says the idea for the statue came out of discussions with Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela.
“Mayor Wukela and I agreed upon this in about two seconds,” says Carter. “Dr. Beck’s life was the epitome for everything that this building represents. He was one of the most distinguished physicians to practice in this community, and his work impacted thousands of lives, one office visit at a time. This statute is an appropriate way to honor his service.”
Celeste Barbara Beck Abdallah, Dr. Beck’s daughter, says the family is delighted with the honor, especially since the statue will stand just a few blocks away from Beck’s old N. Dargan Street office.
“(My father) practiced medicine for 56 years and gave 100 percent of his time, medical expertise and friendship to his patients, community and for the advancement of civil rights for all,” says Beck Abdallah. “I want to thank Francis Marion University for this great honor.”
Beck may be best known for his work as a physician, but his impact stretched far beyond his office doors. He a humanitarian, a military veteran, a community leader, an accomplished musician and a family man.
Beck was born in Georgetown, attended Fisk University and received his medical degree at Meharry College of Medicine in Nashville, TN. After completing his residency, Beck served with distinction in the Korean War as a medic in the Medical Corps. He earned a Bronze Star for service rendered in the war. He moved to Florence to live and practiced medicine after the war.
Beck organized the Florence Committee for Community Affairs, was instrumental in bringing the first Head Start program to Florence, served as chairman of the Voter Education Project, was an active member of the S.C. Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and the S.C. Human Affairs Commission, and served as a trustee of the Medical University of South Carolina.
Beck’s honors include the Order of the Palmetto given to him by former Gov. Dick Riley. He also received the Medical Doctor of the Year Award from the Intercounty Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association and the Meharry Medical College President’s Award, given for service to mankind.
The U.S. Post Office on W. Evans Street and the R.N. Beck Child Development Center on Sumter Street, both in Florence, have been named in Beck’s honor.
Beck died in January 2003. He and his wife Barbara, who is now also deceased, have three children: Janice Beck (deceased), Celeste Barbara Beck Abdallah and Dr. Roswell N. Beck, Jr.
The statue is 80 inches high, 48 inches wide and 24 inches deep. It will be a part of the fountain structure on the Irby Street side of the Carter Center plaza.
The university and city commissioned Palkovich, a renowned sculptor who’s completed a number of works around Florence and the Pee Dee, to create the statue.
(This is a press release from Francis Marion University)