Art Beckett

Arthur T. Beckett
Born May 23, 1894, Sacramento(?), California
Died May 19, 1978, age 83, Walnut Creek, California

Of the eight original Raiders owners, Art Beckett had the shortest tenure and was probably the least well-known. He owned a piece of the team for less than a month and after selling out, resumed his career as a building contractor without much drama.

Born on May 23, 1894, in Sacramento, to Arthur E. Beckett, an oil industry worker, and his wife, Marguerite, his family appeared to enjoy reasonably comfortable circumstances. His father eventually left the oil industry and settled in as a harbormaster at the Port of San Francisco, a position he held until his retirement. Arthur, Jr., was the oldest of three siblings that included a brother, Roy, and a sister, Marguerite.

Not much is available concerning the younger Arthur’s childhood, though two different newspapers reported that in March 1910, the 15-year-old had his bicycle stolen. Sometime around 1916, Art, now about 21, married Gertrude, 19, and by the taking of 1920 census they had a pair of daughters, Jean and Beverly. He was also the head of his own contracting firm.

A son, Thomas, was born at about that time, but in August 1921, tragedy struck the family. According to a story in the Oakland Tribune, young Thomas, listed as a two-year-old but not mentioned in the recent census, had been playing on the back porch of the family’s home in Oakland. Somehow, he got tangled up in the ropes of a porch swing and when Gertrude found him there, he was dead, presumably by strangulation.

In 1924 the couple had another son, Jack, and by the 1930 Art’s business was going strong and both husband and wife were active in Oakland’s social club scene. Beckett was also an avid fisherman if the number of stories of his exploits on the Feather River are anything to go by.

By the 1940s, he was building homes and factories in the East Bay and taking advantage of the economic boom that came with World War II. In partnership with Frederick Federighi, the business grew and by the mid-1950s they were taking on ever larger projects like the Bay Fair Shopping Center in San Leandro.

Other than regular mentions of his and his wife’s participation in various social club events, he next came to the public’s attention when he was included in a list of prospective owners of an American Football League team in Oakland on January 26, 1960. His group was awarded the team four days later, but unlike most of his partners in the endeavor he was never quoted about it. He was also absent from an ownership meeting and group photo on February 10. Soon thereafter, on the 22nd, team co-owner Robert Osborne announced that Beckett had given up his portion of the team and that his slot would be filled by Roger Lapham. And that was it. He had been a Raiders owner for roughly 24 days.

He attracted one last bit of notoriety when he battled the Internal Revenue Service over some financial maneuvers he and Federighi had undertaken in the late 1950s. The case was decided against him in 1963. Afterward, he and Gertrude continued to live their lives as they always had, running their business and taking part in club affairs, some of which included other former team owners, such as Chet Soda and Wallace Marsh.

He died in 1978 at the age of 83. He left behind his wife, three adult children, and eight grandchildren. His obituary made no mention of his one-time ownership of a share of the Oakland Raiders.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
Sacramento Bee
San Francisco Call
San Francisco Chronicle
United States Census Bureau
United States Tax Court records