#Throwback Thursday: Philip R. Beuth’s Memoir

Philip R. Beuth holding his new memoir, “Limping on the Water.” (Courtesy of Charlie Casey)

You do not have to look far on this campus to find his name. You might see his name in Schaffer Library or in front of one of the Minerva Houses. Through his long connection and generous donations to the college, Philip R. Beuth is a household name here at Union.

Beuth, an incredibly successful TV executive, added another item to his already extensive resume.

On Dec. 10, 2015 ‘Limping on Water: My 40-year adventure with one of America’s outstanding communications companies,’ Beuth’s memoir, was published by Smart Business network.

Beuth’s life is the full realization of the American dream. I had the honor to interview Beuth on his life while he was here at Union.

Union, according to Beuth, opened doors in so many different ways. But, prior to Union, Beuth never imagined he could afford such a prestigious college as Union. As a child, Beuth worked various jobs to help support his widowed mother and his brother. Union was not on his radar, that is until he met Frank Bailey, class of 1885.

Beuth met Bailey through the efforts of Happy Olsen, the father of one of his close friends. Olsen worked at an investment firm headed by Bailey. Bailey informed his employees they could send their sons to Union. Of course, Beuth was not Olsen’s son, but Olsen looked out for the young Beuth and arranged a meeting between Union’s treasurer and the young man.

Beuth recalled walking into Bailey’s office in Manhattan and seeing the endless amount of paraphernalia. After their short meeting, Bailey promised to give Beuth a scholarship to attend Union and just a week later, Beuth received his acceptance letter from the Dean of Union, then Dean Bill Huntley.

In his memoir, Beuth cites his meeting with Bailey as a major turning point in his life. Not only was he going to Union, but it was one of the first times someone he hardly knew extended a generous hand to the young man.

Before he even entered Union, Beuth knew he wanted to be involved in broadcasting. What got him interested in broadcasting was listening to Red Barber announce Brooklyn Dodger’s baseball games.

He even got a chance to meet his hero after perfectly predicting the final places of 16 teams in both the American League and National League. During his visit with Barber, he also ran into baseball legend Jackie Robinson.

While at Union, following in the steps of his hero Barber, Beuth took a job at General Electric WRGB television station, which was a 30minute walk from the campus.

There he worked as a page for about two and a half years each weeknight, and sometimes Saturdays. Much of his time at Union was dedicated to working in the classroom and outside of it.

“The combination of a great education and working at WGRB was immensely valuable to me,” said Beuth.

Two of the most memorable people form his time at college were English Professors Carl Niemeyer and Dean Bill Huntley.

“Niemeyer, even though he didn’t know it, had a profound multiyear effect on me,” stated Beuth. He cited Dean Huntley as always looking out for Beuth while at Union.

Beuth considered himself extremely privileged to go to Union. He said there was never a single moment when he thought college was not for him.

“I was the luckiest guy in the world. I loved every moment,” explained Beuth.

Coming from a poor background, Beuth stated he did a lot of growing up while at college, but all his hard work paid off.

After graduating from Union in 1954, Beuth attended Syracuse University where he got his masters in television production.

Beuth eventually found a home with Capital Cities Communications. Beuth helped lead the company through forty years of major success and ultimately became president of Good Morning America.

Beuth goes into far greater detail in his new memoir. To this day, Beuth still has a dozen close friends from his time at Union College.

As a Trustee during the 1980s, Beuth worked diligently to make Union a more publicly known institution and helped bring ABC anchor Charles Gibson to the college in 2007.

His work in promoting the college is a large factor as to why the class of 2020 has more than 6,000 applications.Beuth did offer up a word of advice to current students.

“Integrity can make all the difference. Don’t take any shortcuts and go by the book. If you wouldn’t want your mother to read about it in the paper, don’t do it. I live by that.”

Beuth’s story is incredible. He overcame every obstacle thrown in his direction and rose to some of the highest points in the world of television. His life story ranks next to those of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.

Beuth still stays humble when it comes to his success and is constantly giving back to his community.

He has helped send children to school, fund AIDS research and make Union an even better institution.

If you want to read the story of a truly great man, you do not have to look any farther than Beuth’s memoir.

A copy of his book can be bought on Amazon or, if you’re a student, you can contact Senior Editor of Publications Charlie Casey at caseyc@union.edu, and he can help you get a signed copy of Beuth’s memoir. It is also being featured at a convention held by Warren Buffett in May of this year.




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