And on Thursday, the local Col. William Candler chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution awarded him the organization’s most prestigious honor, the DAR Medal of Honor.
The DAR chapter has been established since 1914, and Beckstein is the first to receive the DAR Medal of Honor for outstanding citizenship from the local women’s group.
Beckstein, affectionately referred to as "Mr. B," began the Good News at Noon homeless shelter in 1990 with his late wife, Margie Beckstein.
The Becksteins began doling out food from the community center at Melrose Apartments on Davis Street. That first day, 12 men came for lunch at noon. On the second day, 20 men came to eat and hear Beckstein’s ministry.
Nearly 20 years later, Beckstein is the heart of Good News at Noon, which now operates from a house at 979 Davis St. and regularly serves more than 150 people each day.
The homeless shelter and ministry currently has a shelter with 13 beds for the homeless and an after-school program that provides a safe place to study for 90 children.
Beckstein, a former homeless World War II veteran himself, said a new shelter is under construction on the Davis Street property that will accommodate 35 beds for the homeless.
Marcie Fletcher, regent of the Col. William Candler chapter of the DAR, said she first read of Beckstein and Good News at Noon in the local newspaper.
"When I read about him in the newspaper, I had a light bulb that went on and thought, ‘That man deserves a medal,’" Fletcher said. "I felt like he was so worthy of this medal of honor. He’s made a lasting contribution to the community through his founding of Good News at Noon and has helped so many to better their lives."
She began collecting letters from the community recommending Beckstein for the award in November. Two months later, Fletcher received approval from the state and national DAR Chairmen of Americanism certifying Beckstein as a DAR Medal of Honor recipient.
Gloria Stargel, who wrote a short biography of Beckstein for a book entitled "Led to Believe" honoring Billy Graham, said Beckstein "absolutely deserves it."
"He’s given up himself all these years — whether it was to help people who were hungry or needing shelter, or just needing a friendly hand on their shoulder," Stargel said. "He’s always been like that since he was 29 and found God. He’s been homeless, hungry and without friends. He knows what it means to help people."
Despite the coat of praise lacquered on Beckstein’s dedication to service Thursday, Beckstein himself said he thought he was not deserving of such an award.
"This is a great honor," Beckstein said. "It may not be good for anybody else, but I just do it because it’s good for me. It’s good for me to minister like this. I’m 85 years old, and I wake up every morning and I can’t wait to get to Good News at Noon."