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.
Pam at 14
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.
Over the subsequent thirty-eight years since she joined, Pam held every position in the Ladies Auxiliary. And, although she considered joining as a member of the Elks rather than being a member of the Auxiliary earlier, she kept taking positions in the auxiliary that needed filling. Finally, Roy Wilson, her brother, and now fellow Elk, brought her an application and told her it was time to join as a member. She was initiated as a full member in January 2022, marking her thirty-ninth year of association with the lodge.
With the Lodge, she is currently a member of the House Committee, is the cashier for Steak Night, and still volunteers at many of the Ladies Auxiliary functions; Brunch with Santa is her favorite of all. Pam is never too far away from the Lodge, “I like the friendliness and camaraderie here. When the Lodge decided to do something, everyone does everything needed. It feels like family. I like people and I like being a goodwill ambassador.” The River Run is also one of the annual events she makes sure she is a part of.
Pam retired after thirty-four years in the telecommunications department at Ingalls Shipbuilding. Now, she spends her days at the Pascagoula Senior Center, helping with Bingo at the Elks Lodge, and doing something you would not expect; you see, Pam is an actress.
One day while at the Pascagoula Senior Center, she noticed an advertisement for an acting class in the Center’s newsletter. She thought to herself, “This might be interesting.” So, she signed up and attended lessons led by Mac Nelson, a local playwright. After six months, Nelson announced to the class that they were going to perform some scenes. Pam was not sure she could do it. But she says that she did, and the acting bug bit her. She has been a member of the Pascagoula Senior Center Players since 2014 and is a charter member of the Singing River Little Theater.
Front L-R - Pam Beecher, Joel May, Lexi Sadler, Rhonda Howard Back L-R Rick Roberts, Ryan Waltman, Matthew Dittsworth
As part of the Singing River Little Theater, she has participated in several productions as a stagehand and as an actor. This past fall, she played the lead role of “Grandma” in the play “A Nice Family Christmas.” The play was produced at the Jackson County Assembly Hall at the Jackson County Fairgrounds. During the action, Pam’s “Grandma” character, an eccentric, crass woman, calls on her real-life dancing background, and Pam had to depend on that hip-hop inspiration for a twerking scene that brought down the house.
Pam is adored and loved by her fellow Elks and is a staple at the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120. She lives in Escatawpa where she plays with her other hobbies sewing lap quilts and canning vegetables when she’s not at the Senior Center, the playhouse, or the Elks. With such a full life, what else could she possibly want? "I hope to have many more fun, zany and exciting experiences in the future," she says. We certainly think she will.