Larry Beckner long has combined two of his passions: the law and helping others. Now the lawyer has been recognized for his efforts with his selection by the Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction as Kiwanian of the Year.
While Beckner is known for his wit and endearing remarks at club functions, he was at a loss for words when his selection was announced “It was one of the first times in my life I was tongue-tied,” he said. “There are so many people who do so many things. It was an amazing thing.”
Beckner has been doing amazing things for decades.
For 42 years, he’s attended weekly Kiwanis meetings, provided legal counsel for the club, flipped pancakes at the annual Pancake Day fund-raiser and rung bells to collect money for the Salvation Army during the holidays.
“He did most of the work involved in selling Camp Kiwanis,” said Sue Kiser, the Kiwanis Club president who nominated Beckner for the award.
The Kiwanis Club founded the camp on the Grand Mesa, but the facility became too costly and labor-intensive for club members to handle. Beckner helped the club complete paperwork that included approval from the U.S. Forest Service, gaining input from past Kiwanis presidents and completing details for the sale to Camp Hope. The organization provides camp experiences for children with disabilities.
“I worked at the camp,” Beckner said, explaining his long-time affiliation motivated him to help keep it open until it could be sold. “If we had abandoned it, we would have been forced to restore the site to its original state. So we hung onto it.”
The Kiwanis Club contributes funds to the camp to ensure it continues to offer outdoor getaways.
Kiser said Beckner also reviewed new bylaws after other members did the initial work. “He took the initiative to run them by Kiwanis International.”
In addition, Beckner volunteers for just about everything, including Kite Day at Sherwood Park, Kiser said.
Beckner’s legal experience on the Grand Mesa didn’t end with Camp Kiwanis. He got to know Bill Foster after Foster founded Powderhorn Ski Resort in the 1960s. “Bill would sell stock, and I wound up being legal counsel for Powderhorn,” said Beckner.
Beckner also volunteered at the resort, working with kids.
“I put equipment on and off and picked them up out of the snow,” said Beckner, explaining that he wouldn’t be the best ski instructor for the kids.
He later became more active in the resort, helping to serve disabled people.
“We were sitting around one day, discussing how Winter Park had a handicapped ski program,” Beckner said.
That’s how the Powderhorn Handicapped Ski Corp. began. Later, Sandy Trombetta from the Veterans Administration Hospital asked if the VA might become involved in a ski program. The inquiry morphed into the Colorado Discoverability program for disabled skiers. The national VA Winter Sports Clinic was staged at Powderhorn for a few years.
Beckner’s interest in skiing goes back to the years prior to earning his law degree. He started skiing when he was 6 years old, spending many weekends on the slopes of Aspen. After graduating from Grand Junction High School and the University of Colorado, he embarked on a teaching career at Orchard Mesa Middle School. But his love of skiing took him to Steamboat Springs, where he ran a restaurant that only opened for dinner. “I could ski every morning, then run the restaurant until 10 at night,” he said.
The schedule was a good fit for his favorite sport, but the job wasn’t a good match, he said. “I learned I don’t want to run a restaurant.”
So he earned a law degree and ran his own business anyway. But this time, he had found his passion. “It’s hard work, but I just love the work. I love the challenge of being a problem-solver.”
He even enjoys the complexity of estates and water law.
“I don’t think I could have enjoyed anything more,” he said.