I am an Elk - Meet Becky Turner
Becky Hill Turner grew up on the east end of Washington Ave in Pascagoula, Mississippi. “I was raised in the same bedroom from birth until I got married,” she says emphasizing that her childhood home was “stability” that many do not get to experience. The child of David and Ethel Hill, Becky remembers playing around the dog pound, and the Chicago Bridge and Iron property that was located near Greenwood Island then. She says that more than once she was chased off from the waste-water treatment plant in that area a foreshadowing of her later career in the utility division of Chevron USA Pascagoula.
The youngest of four children, Becky attended Eastlawn Elementary on Ingalls Avenue. The students in her class were very close, and having a reunion in 2021 twenty-two of the original classmates met. She enjoyed running for sport until a kitchen accident with boiling water led to her receiving second and third-degree burns on her abdomen and side. Later, advancing to Colmer Junior High (now Colmer Middle School) she became editor of the school’s yearbook in the ninth grade. She remembers two teachers from Colmer that have had a lasting impact on her - Jean Brown her favorite science teacher, and the well-loved Virginia Milstead who was Turner’s Home Economics Teacher.
In high school, Becky worked for the Jackson-George Regional Library system where she ran the online database. A state grant had been obtained and Becky had been appointed to spend countless hours entering cards into the indexing system for all five branches at the time. At Pascagoula High School, she focused on business-related coursework at the Vo-Tech Campus, graduating in 1984. “I got to leave at noon every day my senior year,” she said.
Throughout school, Becky played softball for Dixie Girls Softball. She would play nine years as a catcher including on a trip to the Dixie Girls World Series in Huntsville, Alabama in the early 1980s. “Florida beat us,” she says. Becky was destined to go to the University of Southern Mississippi on a softball scholarship, but a knee injury prevented that. She wanted to join the United States Air Force, but she struggled with her weight. She has since had gastric bypass and lap band procedures. She is not shy about this fact and confesses that it is a continual work in progress.
After high school, she attended the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Jackson County Campus, but Turner says she hated college. So, she went to work for Cumbest Realty, first as a receptionist and later becoming a real estate agent. Soon, she would move to Carroll County, Mississippi where she would work for a propane company for three and a half years. But, her mother, Ethel, would eventually ask Becky to return to Pascagoula telling her, “You’re too smart for that. Come test for Chevron.” Becky realized that Carroll County was not home, and she returned to Pascagoula and took her mother’s career advice.
In 1993, Turner applied to test for Chevron and was accepted. She was hired on her first attempt and started with the corporate giant in 1994. She worked for twenty-five years in utilities at Chevron and wanting to broaden her horizons, asked Chevron to, “Put me somewhere you can [really] use me.” Chevron did just that making her the first female supervisor of any Coker unit at Chevron, worldwide. With a crew of fifteen, Turner was successful, and says that the secret to success is to “Surround yourself with good people, that’s all it takes.”
In 2021, she retired from Chevron and began to focus on her mom’s and her family’s needs, “I retired one day and [grandson] Jaxx was born the next day. It was planned that way.” She also threw herself even more fully into something that she had been a part of for many years, the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120. She had begun working steak night in 2006, working every steak night that she could since she was on shift work at Chevron. Past Exalted Ruler William “Doc” McDevitt had been the Exalted Ruler when she first became affiliated with the Lodge.
She was part of the Ladies Auxiliary for six years and had the honor of being named both Auxiliary Member of the Year and Lady Elk of the year at the same time. She was the second female member to be initiated into the Pascagoula Lodge 1120, along with Becky Richardson, “Becky Squared,” as she refers to that night. “This Lodge is very important in my life,” she says of Pascagoula Lodge 1120, “[It] Helped me fill a void in my life.”
She met her now husband and fellow Elk, Marc Turner, at the Lodge they both share. She remembers him first when he went to pay his lounge tab and realized he had left his wallet at home. “I paid it for him,” she smiles as she remembers the moment. However, it would be several years until fate had them fall in love and would later find Marc proposing at the Lodge. They would be married under the Star of Fidelity in the Lodge hall.
Becky’sfather, David Hill also wanted to become a member of the Elks. He had been proposed, investigated, and balloted favorably on becoming a member of Pascagoula Lodge 1120. However, his health rapidly declined in the few weeks leading up to his initiation date and it became obvious that time was of the essence. A special dispensation from the Grand Lodge for an initiation to occur bedside came, but Hill’s health had failed to the point that his initiation was not possible, and he passed before it could occur. While Becky is saddened by the fact that her father did not live to become an Elk, her mother, Ethel has become a member. “Mom is the most important thing in life,” she says of her mother. Becky's brother, Paul Sullivan is also an Elk, sharing her local Lodge.
Ethel is still spry for her age – she drives herself to the Lodge and helps where she can. “I don’t do anything here and I should,” Ethel said. Ethel does more than she lets on as she assists in the Lodge kitchen chopping vegetables and has recently been tapped to help the Public Relations Committee’s information campaigns in the Lodge itself.
Turner has been highly active in the Lodge since becoming a member in 2015. She has served on the Kitchen Committee, Scholarship Committee, House Committee, Golf Tournament Committee, Elks Carnival Ball Decorating Committee Chairman, works most Lodge events, and prepares food for bereavement and memorial gatherings. “I like to cook,” she says, “Mom taught me how to cook.” However, fundraising is her favorite thing to do, “Nine times out of ten someone is going to benefit directly.” Becky loves the camaraderie of the Lodge. “The willing to give your heart,” she says of Elks.
Becky was the Lodge’s Queen Doe to Fred Dummet's King Antlers in the annual Carnival Ball. Becky and Marc have become remarkably close to Fred over the years since, with Dummet serving as a father figure to both. Becky and Marc have made the Pascagoula Lodge 1120 their extended family.
On February 16, 2023, the 155th Anniversary of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the 115th Anniversary of the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120, Becky Turner was elected as Esteemed Lecturing Knight, the first female Knight in the Lodge’s history; only the third overall female officer in the Lodge’s existence. While she has always encouraged participation, she cannot wait to begin in her official capacity to drive membership and participation. Of her new position, she says that she will try to get members to remember the four virtues of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, and Fidelity, “If you don’t live it, if you don’t breathe it, if you don’t create a position for yourself, you aren’t an Elk. If you don’t step up, shame on you.”
Becky and Marc live in Pascagoula and attend church at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.