WALTON — H.L. “Hoke” and Mae Beckley owned a grocery store and a food locker in Walton during the middle of the 20th century. The couple decided to turn their cattle pasture into a community park in the 1950s and now it has been renamed in their honor.
More than 250 children play ball on Beckley Field on Walton’s southeast side each season.
“The Beckleys are big in our community,” said Jason Humphrey, president of the Walton ball park. The Beckley house is among the oldest in town and still stands just a couple of blocks from the ball park.
After retiring from the grocery business, H.L. Beckley “couldn’t just sit around,” his grandson Scott Beckley said, so he went to work as a janitor for Lewis Cass Junior-Senior High School. H.L. and Mae Beckley’s son, Ted Beckley, was a longtime teacher and principal at Lewis Cass, too. Students called him “Mr. B.”
“His family donated the ground to put the ball field in,” Humphrey said, “so we were asked if we would approve of [renaming the field] and the board voted unanimously yes.”
The sons and daughters of Ted Beckley and Phyllis Jones, H.L. and Mae Beckley’s daughter, started an initiative to change the ball field’s name late last year. The family agreed to cover the cost of the ball field’s new sign. Ted Beckley’s son, Todd Beckley, now living in Indianapolis, designed the sign.
Phyllis Jones’s son, Jeremy Jones, a Walton native now living in Zionsville, explained the history of the field to the board.
“I didn’t know that the Beckleys donated the mound until last year it was brought to my attention,” Humphrey said.
But that’s just what had happened. H.L. and Mae Beckley, or Nan and Pap as their grandchildren called them, bought a few acres on Walton’s southeast side in the early 1940s, intending to temporarily pasture customers’ cattle that had been brought to town for slaughter.