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I am an Elk - Meet Eva Sedor Baugh

Family can mean different things depending on what the circumstances are. It can mean those related by blood. It can be those to whom you legally become related when you marry, or your children marry. Close friends can become brothers and sisters without blood or legal status. Co-workers who share the same schedule and experiences can become loved as much as a cousin or more. Those with whom you were initiated into a lodge together – strangers at the start of the initiation who become family, along with the remainder of your fellow Elks. For Eva Marie Sedor Baugh, each of those examples is what has led to her large extended family.

Born at the 130th General Hospital in Nuremberg, Germany, to Charles and Margarete Sedor. Charles was stationed in Nuremberg as a member of the US Army. Margarete was German and raised her daughter speaking Deutsch. In 1967 when the family moved to the Pinecrest Subdivision in Pascagoula, Eva spoke only German – though today, while she can understand her native language, she is no longer fully fluent. Charles retired from the Army and began work as a lab technician at Standard Oil (now Chevron USA Pascagoula Refinery) while Margarete worked at the Cinderella Knitting Mill on Jefferson Street in Moss Point.

Eva is the second of four children, of which Eva is the only girl. Robert has passed, Charlie lives in Pennsylvania, and those who have spent time at the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120 have all met her youngest brother, Andy, who works Steak Night. With brothers, of course, Eva was a Tomboy. “I stayed in trouble as a kid,” Eva explains about growing up in Pinecrest, “I beat up on all the boys.” She went to Eastlawn Elementary School on Ingalls Ave and then to Colmer Junior High School.

Charles was a member of the VFW and American Legion having served in the army post World War II in Korea and later in Germany. Margarete liked to play Bingo at both of those organizations, and Eva would tag along, where she met Ana Rivera Epps. Ana’s mother also played Bingo allowing Eva and Ana to spend time together, becoming fast friends. In the more than fifty years since they met the two are now more like sisters – family.

During her elementary school years, Eva met Debra Tillman, known to many as one of the soon-to-be newest members of the Pascagoula Elks Lodge and “Our own World’s Worst Bartender.” Becky Hill Turner was a few years younger than Eva, but the two have long been friends as well. Colmer Junior High brought an additional life-long friend in Dan “Bubba” Holifield. Eva would eventually finish her education at Pascagoula High School.

Eva’s son Michael was born while Eva was working at Hardee’s in Escatawpa; her daughter, Melissa, would follow eight years later in 1988. She stayed at Hardee’s for several years and then went to work for the Moss Point School System for a couple of years. Eventually, Eva ended up in the printing room at the Mississippi Press Register in Pascagoula, MS. She worked on the line ensuring inserts were properly placed into the folded paper and making sure bundles were properly prepared. “Mostly there were a lot of papers in a bundle,” she says, “But at Christmas, there were only four [because of the number of inserts].” She worked at the Press for five years but then decided to take an opportunity back at Hardee’s where she worked with Lynn Brownlow, the mother of current Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120 House Committee Chairman Chad Brownlow.

However, the news business called Eva back and she returned to the Mississippi Press where she worked in the delivery division with newspaper racks. Most would know this as a coin-operated newspaper machine. She would fill in for delivery to the racks when needed as well. Eva says that she was proud of her time at the Mississippi Press and points out the diversity and employment of those with disabilities there, “The paper had the greatest number of deaf people working in one business in Jackson County.” Eva’s time at the Mississippi Press was another family-making moment, where her co-workers ended up as more family than anything. One of those co-workers was Eloise Lamora, grandmother to the current Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120 Leading Knight Jason Darden.

Eva is between Eloise (with apron) and the gentleman with glasses.

In the years since her retirement from the paper, Eva has focused on volunteering and her grandchildren: Tyler, graduating from Ocean Springs High School later this week, Nick, a junior at Poplarville High School, and Tommy of Grand Bay. There is one additional grandchild, Peyton who is in middle school. But most know her as “Monk.” Eva casually mentioned one day that Peyton’s feet looked like monkey feet. And, well, it stuck; and Monk it is.

Eva has been a member of the American Legion for years and is a life member. But when her old friend Ana began to visit the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120, Eva visited with her. Ana joined the Lodge and soon sponsored Eva for membership. Eva was initiated on October 11, 2018, alongside Darden – who has become more extended family.

After two years of working at Steak Night, Eva was ready to do more. Lodge Secretary and PER Ricky Eplin wanted to retire from his position as secretary. Eva stepped in and was elected to the position. She says, “I enjoy the people and the camaraderie of the Lodge.” She feels especially proud of her time as Secretary, “I brought as much fiscal responsibility to the Lodge [as I could].”

Bringing back the annual River Run was a huge accomplishment for Eva. With her love of fishing and the water, it is her tribute to the Lodge to be able to bring back a much-loved function of the lodge, and one that had fallen by the wayside; not to mention it is one of the largest fundraisers of the year. Her grandchildren have all attended the Elks Children’s Camp, and she hopes that the newly proposed Antlers Program is successful as those grandchildren are now too old to attend the camp, and too young to join the Lodge as regular members. It is her desire to see them participate in her Lodge in some way until they are old enough to become members and the Antlers Program is exactly that.

One of Eva's fondest memories of the Lodge is when she and Nick were delivering food baskets at Christmas time. Nick, who was fourteen at the time, knew of a family in need and asked if Eva could get one more family squeezed in. They did, and when Nick delivered the basket of food to the family, they broke into tears explaining they had just been praying over how to obtain groceries that they could not afford. Eva also coordinated the remodel of the secretary's office and anteroom during the COVID pandemic.

In March 2022, Eva was working in her gardens and suffered a fall. While the fall itself wasn’t serious, another serious issue was discovered because of her trip to the hospital following the injury. A lump was found on her back. “It could be pneumonia, or it could be cancer,” the doctor told her. The results came back, and she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Eva’s attitude was defiance and courage. An oncology nurse is said to have told Eva she should be a spokesperson as her attitude was so strong during the aggressive chemotherapy treatments that Eva was receiving. Additionally, Eva received radiation treatments to her brain as a precaution.

Her Lodge rallied around Eva holding fundraisers for her, praying for her, and standing beside her in her journey against cancer. In late 2022, Eva was declared cancer free, and she announced the results to a relieved membership. But after a trip to Savannah, Georgia in December 2022, a shadow appeared on her PET scan. While it was hoped that it would only be scar tissue from the previous cancer. She began to not feel well again and could no longer drive because of double vision. A trip to the hospital determined that she was anemic and after treatment went home with an appointment for a follow-up. She awoke the following Monday unable to recognize anyone. An ambulance ride later to Infirmary Hospital led to the diagnosis of paraneoplastic syndrome. There will be no ongoing treatment for cancer as her body is not able to withstand the procedure and Eva is focusing on therapy in the hope of regaining her ability to walk.

Melissa has become Eva’s full-time caregiver, and Leroy Green, her son-in-law also helps Eva to and from the Lodge for meetings. Melissa will be initiated on May 25, 2023. “Melissa is there to pick me up every time I fall,” Eva says. Eva knows that God has a plan for her and while she is not scared, she worries about her family – all her family. Her biological one, her family of friends, and her lodge family. Mostly she’s frustrated because she is no longer independent.

Recently, the Lodge honored Eva with the redesign and dedication of the Lodge’s flower gardens. She had seen some of the work being done and had warned that Peyton would not be happy with the removal of flowers that Eva and Monk had planted several years earlier. She explains that she took Payton to Alma Bryant High School where there had been a plant sale occurring and had Payton pick out some plants to purchase a couple of years ago to plant in the gardens. To see those plants removed, it was somewhat heartbreaking. “I gave Jason [Darden] hell about it.” But when Melissa turned the corner and she saw the people in front of the Lodge, she quickly figured out what was going on. She is touched that the Lodge cares enough about her to dedicate the gardens to her.

Eva wants the Lodge to continue strong. She hopes for the hall to be improved with new paint and for he memory boards to be restored. She wants the Lodge to have enough money to not struggle with decisions on what to fix, or what to pay. She also wants everyone to know she “Loves the Lodge.”

Eva lives in Grand Bay, AL with her chihuahua/Jack Russell terrier mix, CoCo.

Eva, you have a wonderful family, and we are great to be a part of it.

On Saturday, June 17, 2023, surrounded by her family and friends, Eva lost her fight with cancer. The faults of our members we write upon the sand, their virtues upon the tables of love and memory. Elks are never forgotten, never forsaken.


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