By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
FLORENCE – More than 35 years after Eula "Sis" Hunt Beck helped inspire the creation of a public library in Florence, the community ensured her name will be kept in the city's history books by renaming the library in her honor.
The city of Florence announced Tuesday that the Florence Public Library will become the Eula Hunt Beck Public Library. The announcement came at the end of the Florence Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet in which the chamber honored Union State Bank for 80 years serving the Florence community. Beck is the chairman of the board for Union State Bank.
Beck, a Killeen Public Library volunteer in the early 1970s, has been credited with giving Florence its first library when she secured a bookmobile of 500 reference books to be borrowed from the Killeen library in 1974. Within a year, the library was officially incorporated into the city.
In 1983, Beck guided the renovation efforts of a 2,400 square-foot masonry building at 207 E. Main St., which became the permanent location for the Florence Public Library.
"Sis Beck is credited with not only the spark that ignited the library's existence, but also with the fuel that has kept it running for all these years, overseeing every detail of the library's function," said Mary Condon, president of the Florence Public Library Board and mayor-elect of Florence. "She has checked out books for
patrons, applied for grants, hired librarians, cleaned the building and even hauled the firewood for the wood stove, the building's only source of heat for years."
The event also honored T.E. Beck, the younger brother of the late B.M. Beck, who along with a partner, acquired Union State Bank in 1955, with a 50-year banker award. T.E. Beck is the executive vice president of Union State Bank and the brother-in-law of Eula Hunt Beck, who was married to B.M. Beck, who died in 2003.
District 54 state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, was on hand to congratulate and praise the efforts of Union State Bank and the members of the Beck family for their service to the community. Aycock said that when he was a young veterinarian trying to get his start, Union State Bank provided the loan he needed, which helped Aycock eventually own multiple offices in Killeen and the surrounding areas.
Brother Roy Smith of Lawler Baptist Church was honored Tuesday as the Florence Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
"One of the great things about this man is he is not committed only to his church members," chamber historian Patty Rodgers said. "If there is someone that needs a visit or prayer no matter what their religion, or lack of, he is your man.
Eula and T.E. Beck are both previous winners of the Citizen of the Year Award in 1983 and 1992, respectively.
Union State Bank started in 1928 when the Florence State Bank, Briggs State Bank and Farmer's State Bank merged to become Union State Bank. In addition to a main branch in Florence, the bank now has one branch each in Killeen, Georgetown, Round Rock, Liberty Hill and Harker Heights.
Contact Victor O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7468