Revered coach Freddie Beckwith left lasting impression | Obituary
Freddie Beckwith, 73, who was head coach of the boys track team at Garfield for 28 years, is remembered as a great coach and a better person.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Freddie Beckwith, a longtime Garfield track coach, died on Wednesday after a long illness. He was 73.
Beckwith, a graduate of Franklin High School, spent 29 years as track coach at Garfield, including 28 as boys head coach. His teams won or shared six state titles and 18 Metro League championships.
His athletes won 22 individual state titles and nine relay crowns, including the 400-meter relay six straight years from 1984-89. It was the payoff for all the hours he put into coaching, all the practices and time he spent time driving students home or working out a little longer.
"We were just laughing about that," said Joy Beckwith, his widow. "The kids want to think the family was the most important priority. I told them it was track. He really loved it."
He was also good at it. Mark Phillips, a track star under Beckwith, told The Seattle Times in 2001 that Beckwith "was the best conditioning coach I ever had. I had a lot of coaches, too, including some so-called world-class coaches."
Yet, Beckwith did so with patience and a gentle side. Greg Brashear, the athletic program liaison for the Seattle Public Schools, coached alongside Beckwith for nearly 30 years at Garfield, including many hours at meets or on bus rides. He said in all that time, he and Beckwith never said a bad word to each other.
"Fred was one of the truly great guys," Brashear said. "I don't know of a person that would have anything negative to say about Fred Beckwith. And I'm not saying this because he died. I'm saying it because it's true."
Of the six big-class state titles Beckwith won, perhaps none came in a more peculiar fashion than the one the Bulldogs shared with Lakes in 1988. According to a 2001 Times article, the power failed during the meet at Lincoln Bowl and car lights had to illuminate the 1,600-meter relay.
Garfield's leadoff runner was disqualified for running out-of-lane, prompting the Lakes coach to hand the trophy to Beckwith during the awards ceremony. The two teams still shared the title.
Beckwith had a knack for molding students into better people.
"If I didn't have a biological dad," former Garfield runner Lamar Hurd said, "I would actually call him Dad. He was a great man."
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or email@example.com