I am an Elk - Meet Pam Wilson Sullivan Beecher
She's been a member for 40 years - Sort of...
Pamela Wilson Sullivan Beecher was raised in Pascagoula, Mississippi, just blocks away from the Elks Lodge that she now calls her own. The daughter of Robert and Shirley Wilson, Pam, grew up in a home on the corner of Dupont and Frederic Streets in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The house is gone now, but the memories of her childhood home remain. Her father, Robert, was a commercial fisherman, working the boats catching croakers used to make cat food at the Quaker Oats factory along the Pascagoula riverfront. The oldest of four siblings, Pam, her two brothers, and her sister were blessed to have their grandparents just houses away on Frederic Street.
Pam attended Our Lady of Victories Catholic School – now Resurrection Catholic High School - through the seventh grade. One of OLV’s favorite principals, Sister Joseph, was someone Pam remembers fondly from her school days. “She would teach number games for math, even though she was the principal,” she says of her former teacher. Beecher also speaks highly of Monsignor Carey and Father Quinn, the priests at OLV at the time.
As a child, she was a neighbor to Aubrey and Neal Beckham, who would, themselves, later become Elks at the Pascagoula Lodge 1120. “They grew up across the road from me,” she says of the Beckhams. “Their mom [Maggie Lee Beckham] started the Exceptional school where Neal went and whenever there would be a social, she would ask me and my friends to attend.” At one of these socials, Pam and Neal would win a “Freeze Contest” where once the music stops, the dancers freeze until the music starts again. As she grew older, Pam attended Pascagoula Junior High school where the famous Mr. Curry was a History and English teacher. After moving to Moss Point, Pam graduated from Moss Point High School.
By the time she was twenty, Pam was married and had two children. Eventually, there would be four kids in all: Carlis Sullivan, a member of the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120 who, sadly, passed away in 2014; Carl Lee Sullivan Jr; Leslie Sullivan, who claimed his mom gave him a girl’s spelling of his name; and Carolyn Sullivan. Those children have given her fifteen grandchildren and twenty-three great-grandchildren.
Pam married Curt Beecher and was married for twenty-eight years before his passing. Curt became an Elk of the Pascagoula Lodge 1120 in 1983, having been sponsored by Eddie Tompkins, whom he knew from Ingalls Shipbuilding. That happened in mid-1983 and Pam became a member of the Ladies Auxiliary in August 1983. On why she loved the Elks so much, Pam says “I ran into so many childhood friends. I felt right at home there.”
When Carolyn was young, she began taking dance classes. “The boys were in sports and Carlis was always busy too,” Pam says of running the kids to various functions. “There was an adult dance class right after Carolyn’s class,” Pam says, and she would watch her daughter dance and then dance in her class. She says that while Carolyn did not take to dancing, she certainly did, “My favorite was tap because I like to make noise. Though, ballet is beautiful.”
Along with tap and ballet, she also took jazz dancing lessons and a few ballroom dance lessons. “ I haven’t tried hip hop lessons,” she says, “I can’t move as fast as I once did.” She continues to dance even now, line dancing at the Pascagoula Senior Center. “There’s no partner needed, and it’s exercise too,” she laughs. For her birthday, her brother Roy took her to see the Chinese dance troupe, Shen Yun when they performed in Jackson, MS.