About the Beckman Humor Project | University of Portland

About the Beckman Humor Project

The story of the Beckman Humor Project is really the story of the friendship between John Beckman  '42 and the late, beloved Portland magazine editor Brian Doyle. 

John and Patricia BeckmanJohn Beckman—a man of inventiveness, humor, generosity, energy, and love, as described by Doyle, who knew him well. A man electrified by the wild creative energy of young people.

It was John who invented the Beckman Humor Project. He really did envision humor as a weapon against arrogance and violence, a binding agent of community, a gentle way to knock down walls between people and between kinds of people. Humor as a “spiritual and revolutionary energy in every field of endeavor, from business to politics to the arts and beyond.” He saw what could be – that, in a nutshell, is John Beckman.

Among so many other things, the Beckman legacy includes a scholarship fund created by John and his wife Patricia, “to foment and encourage and celebrate and spread gentle witty wry humor as a communal energy, as a weapon against arrogance and lies and greed, and as a defiant shout against the dark,” as John himself described it.

The Beckmans began these Scholarships in Gentle and Sidelong Humor in honor of Brian Doyle, known for bringing light, laughter, and levity to nearly every subject he wrote or spoke on. Doyle, University of Portland icon and the brilliant, creative spark behind the Beckman Humor Project, is sorely missed after his untimely passing in 2017 from complications from a brain tumor.

Brian DoyleUniversity of Portland President Fr. Mark Poorman, CSC, shared, “Someone once said of Brian that he could see the grace in every corner of life. He himself wrote: ‘We think of grace arriving like an ambulance, a just-in-time delivery, an invisible divine cavalry cresting a hill of troubles, a bolt of jazz from the glittering horn of the creator, but maybe it lives in us and is activated by illness of spirit. Maybe we’re loaded with grace. Maybe we’re stuffed with the stuff.’ Certainly no one exemplified God’s grace more than Brian by how he lived his life. He was a man filled with a sense of humanity and wonder, who was interested in everyone’s story and who saw everyone’s potential.”

We're grateful to the Beckmans for their generosity and foresight in providing a way for Brian's humor, warmth and luminous energy to live on via the Beckman Humor Project.