Laurence Yep ’66, the author of Dragonwings and dozens of other books, wrote about Fr. Becker in his autobiography, The Lost Garden. Here is an excerpt from his book:
“In my senior year, we had Father Becker who taught us English by having us imitate the various writers and various forms. We had to write poems in the complicated rhyme scheme of the sestina; and we had to write scenes imitating Shakespeare. Our writing would never make anyone forget William or the other greats of English literature; but we learned the nuts and bolts of a style. To this day, I have to be careful what I read because I tend to imitate that writing.
“Early in the semester, Father took some of us aside and said that if we wanted to get an ‘A’ in his course, we would have to get something accepted by a national magazine. All of us were intimidated by the prospect; but in those days you didn’t argue with a Jesuit priest — and you still don’t. All of us tried. None of us got anything accepted; and he later retracted the threat and graded us by the same standards he used for the rest of the class. However, I got bitten by the bug and kept on trying.”
Peter Casey ’68, a writer for Cheers and Wings and the creator of Frasier (the most honored sitcom in TV history), was also a student in Fr. Becker’s class. “He was tough,” Casey said in an interview that appeared in the Spring ’95 Genesis III.“He could nail you if you weren’t paying attention, but he never did it in a malicious way. I respected his opinion tremendously. When he told me that I could write, it made an impression on me. Heading into college, I wasn’t exactly sure what direction I wanted to go. That praise helped steer me to major in journalism at a junior college and in broadcasting when I transferred to San Francisco State University.”
On April 20, 1997, SI dedicated a courtyard next to the campus ministry center in honor of Fr. Becker. Casey donated funds for the project, which, with its fountain and benches, is a place that invites students to gather in small groups and discuss a novels and poetry.