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Title:
Interview with Janet M. Beason, August 7, 2007
Date:
August 7, 2007
Description:
Janet M. Beason was born,raised, and married in Jacksonville,NC. After her divorce she and her 2 sons moved to Wilmington, NC where she opened JB's Newsstand at Plaza East. There she renewed a working relationship with David Jones, who, with his brother, owned several businesses in Jacksonville. Janet told Jones she would "help" him out for 6 mos. Janet is now the guiding hand for the various David L. Jones business involvements, making decisions on a CEO level. She says one of her dreams is to get a college degree, even though she has acquired astute business acumen. Janet is a Master Diver, and owns and operates a Diving School. She is proud to be involved in mentoring children, and from a screened list of the most needy takes under wing those who need a sense of security and takes them into her home for a day, and finds teaching these kids Scuba Diving instills self confidence. Janet shares her time and talents as a caring woman by deep hands on involvement woth Chamber of Commerce, Men For Hope, Willie Stargell Kidney Foundation, Thalian Hall, The Seahawk CLub, and is on the Board for Domestic Violence Shelter and Services. She is active politically, but behind the scenes. Her heart lies in the education of children, all children, and feels this is the basis of a healthy, rewarding life. Her greatest hope is to attend college level classes, and maybe down th road get a degree. For now she is a happy, fulfilled woman who feels Wilmington is wonderful, and even with growth of surrounding counties, will always "be the hub".
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Beason, Janet M. Interviewer: Jones, Carroll / Malpass, Chris Date of Interview: 8/7/2007 Series: SENC Volunteers Length 47 minutes

Jones: Today is August 7, 2007. I am Carroll Jones with Chris Malpass, with the Randall Library Special Collections Oral History Program. And I think we have to check that date if it's the seventh or the eighth, I don't have my reminder here, so we'll correct that. Our guest this morning is Janet Beason, business owner, corporate executive, mother, doting grandmother, scuba diver instructor, active volunteer and board member with local family issue groups, Thalian Hall and whatever, and also my dear friend. Good morning Janet, we're pleased to have you with us.

Beason: Thank you, I'm glad to be here.

Jones: I'm so glad you are. Talk about your early years if you will. I know you're a North Carolina, so we need you to speak about that, but you are originally from Jacksonville, right?

Beason: No, actually I was born at Fort Bragg. My father was in the Army and he was from Utica, New York, one of eight boys and my mother was the Fayetteville area, Cedar Creek to be exact. And they met at the train station because he was an MP on duty there and she sold train tickets. So that's how they met.

Jones: At Fort Bragg?

Beason: In Fayetteville. But I was born at Fort Bragg, but raised in Fayetteville. And so my dad decided he liked grits and collards, and didn't like shoveling snow, and that's how they stayed in North Carolina rather than moving to New York. But my grandparents could not speak any English.

Jones: What language did they speak?

Beason: Italian. He was all the older brothers came straight from Italy. So yeah--

Jones: Well, it couldn't be all bad.

Beason: No it was great. See I had the best of both worlds, I think. You know how we say Yankees and Southerners; well I think it's great that I had both.

Jones: So you grew up with pasta and grits?

Beason: Absolutely. Yes and being in a military town, you grow up with people from all over the world. So everybody can usually tell where I'm from by my accent.

Jones: That's true. Well how long were you in Fayetteville?

Beason: I moved from Fayetteville when I was 40 years old, to Wilmington. So I've been here for 21 years.

Jones: Well, where's the Jacksonville connection?

Beason: None.

Jones: Then that's my wrong information. I apologize. Tell me about J.B.'s Newsstand. I thought that was--where was that?

Beason: Well actually, that was here. The business on before it was in Fayetteville, that was called The Outpost. We sold all type of outdoor gear; canoes, mountain climbing equipment, it was fun going to work every single day.

Jones: You said we. Who is we?

Beason: I was in business with two other people, and we did very well and then I met Bob and moved to Wilmington to get married, to remarry I should say. And I love it here. I wouldn't leave here. My two sons were very agreeable about moving here, they both still are here in the area.

Jones: How many children do you have?

Beason: I have two sons. I have two sons and five wonderful grandchildren, three little girls and two little boys.

Jones: And they live here?

Beason: All of them.

Jones: Well aren't you fortunate?

Beason: Yes I am, very much. I like to babysit for them. I enjoy them.

Jones: You can watch them grow up.

Beason: Oh yeah, yeah.

Jones: That's terrific. All right, so what about Jacksonville. What did your father do when he got out of the Army?

Beason: My father actually--this is what's so interesting about my dad. When he was growing up he was a great baseball player, but my parents being Italians and from a poor family the children had to, during the summer months--I guess you would kind of relate it to, like the migrant workers today, where they went out in the fields and picked vegetables to help support the family, and bake bread at the bakery in the winter time. But anyway, my father was such a good baseball player that they asked--one of the teams when my dad was about 16, asked my grandparents to let him play ball instead of going out in the fields. And of course that was just unheard of. But they paid them $2000. Now that was--

Jones: For how long period?

Beason: For that summer.

Jones: For the summer.

Beason: So when dad went in the service, he also played baseball for some of the Army teams while he was in the service. And after getting out of the service in '46, he actually played for a little while for the Chicago Cubs, mostly on the minor league level, but some on the major league level.

Jones: Did his sons pick up any of the--

Beason: No sons, all daughters. And the saddest thing, I think, by the time the third girl came, he decided that all his equipment should be given to his very athletic nephews, so I never got any. And unfortunately, I was born--I was born at a wonderful time and a not wonderful time. The wonderful time was a wonderful childhood, growing up, playing games, entertaining ourselves, but there was no baseball for girls. Girls sports wasn't very good then. And I loved--

Jones: How about softball?

Beason: There was nothing, nothing for girls. The only thing they had was basketball, and the local high school that I attended got rid of the girl's basketball team the year I went to high school. But I wanted to play baseball more than anything in the world. And to this day I love it. There's never been a bad baseball game, never.

Jones: You don't follow any particular team?

Beason: Oh yeah. The Yankees and the Braves.

Jones: Oh, the Yankees.

Beason: I love it. And the Braves, yes, so.

Jones: You just pick the winners right?

Beason: Well, I've always liked them and--

Jones: That's the New York coming out of you, right?

Beason: That's the New York coming out, yes. But back to your questions about the J.B's, when I came here I wanted to try small business. So instead of doing the same type of thing I was doing in Fayetteville, the outdoor type, because there was already several businesses like that here, and Wilmington was just starting their growing spurt.

Jones: Now how long ago was that?

Beason: That was '86. I opened the newsstand, J.B.'s Newsstand at Plaza East in 1986.

Jones: Plaza East was really new at that time.

Beason: Yes, and so I kept it for four years and it was a lot of work and I only knew two people when I moved here, but after four years in the newsstand I knew a lot of people.

Jones: Wait a second. When did you move here?

Beason: 1986.

Jones: Oh, you moved here the same year you opened J.B.'s Newsstand.

Beason: Yeah.

Jones: And you moved here with?

Beason: And we got married.

Jones: And got married to Bob. And so that was your reason for coming.

Beason: That was my reason for moving here.

Jones: And you knew only two people.

Beason: Two people. But, I was called J.B. so much, you know, but I still see people that I met from the newsstand there. Then when I decided to close it one of the things we were going to talk about is how did I choose my career. Well, it wasn't really a choice. I went to work for David and his brother in Fayetteville, during doing accounting work, which I liked. But then I was in retail a lot, so the two choices there. So David said to me, why don't you come back to work for me, 'cause I had worked for him and his brother before.

Jones: Now this time David is this Wilton?

Beason: David Jones.

Jones: And Wilton?

Beason: And Wilton.

Jones: And they had the business, which the family still does have a business in Fayetteville, right?

Beason: Actually, they've sold out completely. But they did--actually, Wilton actually closed the businesses for awhile, right after David went.

Jones: This was all retail work right?

Beason: All retail work. But I was doing accounting work as well, so I got a lot of experience in accounting and retail.

Jones: How did you meet him? You knew him just from being in Fayetteville?

Beason: Mm-hmm. I went in and said, is there an opening? And I got the job, and worked off and on. Well, I worked for over ten years for them. And when I moved here and David came in the newsstand and he said, why don't you come back to work for me? And I said, "Well okay, I'll come get your stuff organized." That was in 1990. So 17 years later I'm still there. So David and I worked off and on around each other for 42 years.

Jones: I was just going to say I'd heard him say that he'd had you around for 40 plus years.

Beason: 'Cause even when I didn't work directly, when he came back from Raleigh, I kept books for him for his car lot and he owned the Western Auto. So that's kind of how my career was established, simply work experience.

Jones: Well you must have been good.

Beason: Well, I tolerate a lot. (laughing)

Jones: You must do that too.

Beason: But actually, I'm really grateful for David because he's actually given me a lot of opportunities that I ordinarily wouldn't have been given at a regular job. The position that I'm in, the things I've learned, he's--he also encouraged me to get involved in the community as well as Louise McCall, both of them.

Jones: I wanted to ask you about Louise later. She's on my list too, to talk to.

Beason: As mentors, I'd say that I have two; David Jones and Louise McCall.

Jones: Well I have a feeling, a strong feeling that David, when he respects somebody, he'll absolutely go to the boards with them.

Beason: Absolutely. He's very generous.

Jones: Loyal.

Beason: Absolutely. Yeah, and like I said, he's very good to me. Being a single woman isn't always the easiest thing in the world, but he makes it so I can be comfortable and do some things. So I appreciate it.

Jones: I hope you don't mind, and stop me if you wish, but I know that you had some rough times there in your personal life. And I think that I heard from several other people who've had contact with you that it never did seem to slow down your enthusiasm for life and your work habits. And you just kept going and I think that's very admirable.

Beason: Actually, and you're right about that. It was probably the year 2000 that was probably the worst year of my life. My father passed away, we were kind of expecting it, but you're never really expecting it so when it happened it was sudden and I lost my dad and a friend, and then 19 days later the boy's father died suddenly of a heart attack, and we had remained very good friends. So I had lost my dad, my first husband, the boy's dad. And so they were going through some very difficult times for that in just a little over two weeks and then that was in the 19th of January, and then in May, Bob decided he wanted to leave. So in five months that was a lot that went on. And I could have sat around and cried about it, but it wouldn't have done me any good. So I figured I just had to keep putting one foot in front of another and fortunately I had a lot of good friends, still have a lot of good friends and people that cared about me.

Jones: Is this where you got your inner strength, through friends?

Beason: Yes, and God.

Jones: I was going to say. Is this also what has driven you to pay closer attention to and volunteer for various groups like domestic violence service and shelters and that sort of thing?

Beason: Absolutely.

Jones: We'll get to that.

Beason: Yeah, I think that for whatever reason God gives some people more strength than others. Some people no matter how hard they try, would try maybe could not overcome what went on in my life in five months. So I thank God everyday for that courage, and for my friends and my family.

Jones: Well, it shows.

Beason: Thank you.

Jones: It shows. But you're happy.

Beason: I am happy. I'm very happy.

Jones: All right, so we got to the newsstand, we got to David coming in and saying, why don't you come back to work for me? And that sounded like a good idea?

Beason: Yeah, I told him I'm not going to work 80 or 90 hours a week anymore. I've already done that. (laughing) He said, you don't have to. So I said, okay. So actually my plan was to work there for about six months and get him organized.

Jones: He just moved here?

Beason: He had moved in 1980. And maybe actually '78 or '79, he opened the first business on Market Street, in Jones Plaza in 1990. So he was here about six years ahead of me.

Jones: We were trying to figure this out recently. Somebody asked, Wilbur Jones, and he said he wasn't quite sure, but he remembered talking to David on the telephone a couple of times he was talking about his various new businesses, and he was living in Wilmington, which was new news I guess. So anyway that was kind of serendipitous that you moved here and he's here.

Beason: I know, I know it seems like we kind of followed each other. So, in lots of ways David's like family and of course I feel like Pete and Scott; his sons, were part of mine.

Jones: I think you've taken care of them, haven't you?

Beason: Well but we're--I'm grateful for the friendship, grateful to you, he's done very nice things.

Jones: Yes, I know, but I think he's grateful for you, he's said some very nice things. So you went back to work, you got him organized and you never quit.

Beason: No, and the same year that I went back with David, I had a challenge. And the challenge was this, my friend said, "I'm going to become a dive master, for the scuba diving." I got certified in 1986, let me back up , that means the year I learned to dive. And I kept taking lessons because I wanted to become more comfortable with diving here.

Jones: Had you done this elsewhere?

Beason: No, I started here in Wilmington in '86.

Jones: Is this just your athletic nature, or daredevil nature? Or let's try it?

Beason: Just athletic and always wanting to do it. So the opportunity was here so I kept taking courses so when my friend said I'm going to be a dive master, and that's the next to highest you can go. I thought well, if he can be a dive master, I'm sure I can. Now, I worked very hard to do this. I had to quit smoking, I had to swim and get my stamina back up and go through a lot of studying. So then when called and he said, I'm going to be an instructor. I thought, oh no, I can't be that, but I can't let him do it if I don't do it. So here I am taking off to Jacksonville to take the instructor course. I was so intimidated, because I knew it was going to be a bunch of young guys, and even though I wasn't old by my standards now, but to then at 40 something I was-I felt like I seemed to them old.

Jones: Just starting out.

Beason: Well actually into my fourth level, okay. So, I passed the course and that was like, okay. But I never, ever decided--I'd never thought about teaching it. It was just to do it. Well then some friends said, "Teach us a course." and I said, "Okay." So I taught that first course and I knew right then I loved it more than anything else I had ever done in my life. But one of the reasons I loved it so much was not just the diving, it was-- I had so many things happen to me when I was doing my first courses. I mean if it could go wrong it went wrong with me. So I felt like I knew if somebody was going to have a problem that I could make them be more at ease. And I could make them, I could work with them a little closer so they didn't have to maybe go through what I did. So I've been teaching ever since 1990.

Jones: But you don't always teach off the coast of Carolina do you?

Beason: I teach here, but I have students go with me on trips if they decide to do that. I have taught some of them and finished them up on some of the wonderful Caribbean islands. But mostly it's here and when you're diving here it's very different than diving in the Caribbean.

Jones: How different is it?

Beason: Well here we have deep water, we have current, we have low visibility or you can have great visibility.

Jones: So it's a little more dangerous here.

Beason: Very. In the islands, I mean you're out on the surface and you look down and you can see everything. So that's very easy diving.

Jones: How far out do you go?

Beason: Anywhere from three miles to 40 miles.

Jones: Really?

Beason: Yes.

Jones: Have you ever had a purpose in diving, looking for any sunken treasure or pirate's coins?

Beason: No sunken treasure, but I have friends who can spear the biggest lobsters you've ever seen. People don't realize that we have lobsters off our coast 30 miles, that weigh 5, 10, up to 20 pounds. They're huge. There used to be a lobster season, and there's not that anymore, but I don't--they're faster than me, so I'll never get a big lobster, but I get little lobsters. And also I spear, I don't get to do it much I don't spear when I'm teaching. But I love to spear fish. I love to collect shells, and I just love to see all the things that God made.

Jones: Now the fish you spear are strictly for consumption?

Beason: Eating, absolutely. There's nothing better than bringing--

Jones: You're down deep though right?

Beason: Yes. Most of our bags--

Jones: So you spear a fish--

Beason: And put it in a bag.

Jones: And put it in a bag.

Beason: Now, up until the year 2000 or so, I'd only seen five sharks from 1986 till the year 2000, but now you see them on most of the docks. It's very exciting to me. I'm not afraid.

Jones: What kind of sharks are there?

Beason: Mostly sand tigers. There is a bull shark that hangs around one of the wrecks. There has been a couple tiger sharks, nurse sharks. They're just exciting, you know, for me to see. If I was 30 years younger, I would love to do some of the filming underwater in some of the shark cages or getting out of them. I just . . .

Jones: Have you ever been in trouble?

Beason: No, thank goodness, I haven't. But I'm cautious. But I just think it's neat that we can see things that close up.

Jones: What do you think--you obviously have learned a tremendous amount, and probably did in your classes about the waters off this coast and currents and warps and whatever. What do you feel is the reason for seeing more sharks today, just a few years later?

Beason: Well, they've been protected for some years now.

Jones: So they're breeding.

Beason: And around our ledges and wrecks there's lots of fish, so there's lots of meals.

Jones: Do you see a lot of wrecks out there?

Beason: Yes. I like ledge diving better.

Jones: You do? What vintage?

Beason: Oh, the most--probably one of the sights, it's three miles off shore, one of the Liberty Ships. It's all broken up. But you know, you can tell. There's tug boats off there, there's out about 18 miles there's two wrecks, there, it was a school house, it was a barge actually, at Cape Fear Community College, it was a three story building and they actually took everything out, took it out and sank it. It later crushed down so there's lots of piles, but there are two--the Marcum and the Hyde are two wrecks, and right now, I can't remember the dates on them, but we wonderful diving here. You know, and actually I'm sure you've read in the paper about the lion fish that had taken residency in our waters, 40 miles off the shore. Even close in I believe is 30, hundreds of them now, but we have lots of tropical fish. Lots of--

Jones: Tropical fish?

Beason: Yes we do. We have angel fish, we have--well I mean, there's a lot that's not here for sure, but we have beautiful fish here, lots of big grouper.

Jones: Is there any kind of prohibition against certain fishes or certain items?

Beason: Well, we have to follow the same guidelines as a person doing fishing, as far as length and so forth. So you need to know those regulations before--you cannot spear a lobster, you have to net it or with a noose, but you cannot spear a lobster. That's good, because they get enough of them as it is, but.

Jones: Have you ever done this anywhere else? Gone off aside from the Caribbean, have you ever gone to any other area on the world, Pacific, Atlantic, whatever?

Beason: I would love to do some Pacific diving, but I haven't because to me you need two weeks. If you're going to go that far, you're going to need two weeks. I hope to before--in the next three of four years do one of the trips. But when I hear a--

Jones: Are there specific trips you can go on with fellow divers?

Beason: There are, I haven't done any research, you know, as to where I'd like to go, but on my last dive trip in May to Little Cayman, there were some people that have been all over the world. And they're talking 40 or 42 hours of travel time to do some of the diving off of the Pacific and that's--

Jones: The Coolah Islands are one place where there's a lot of people who go to do it. And of course one side, I can't remember which one, it's the North Shore Australia.

Beason: Yes, I would love to go there.

Jones: Even Southern California, down in Mexican waters, which is warm.

Beason: Yeah, I want warm water. I used to teach in 75, 70, 62 degree water. I don't want to do that anymore.

Jones: So you have people that you teach? You've taught a lot of people to do this?

Beason: Yes, I have.

Jones: That's what I thought.

Beason: But I like small groups. I don't want large groups. I may have ten or 12 in a classroom, but four to five people is what I like to take to the swimming pool and in the lake at a time I give each of them good individual attention. I like to make sure everything's safe and I they're taken care of.

Jones: Well, I tell you, that's very ambitious.

Beason: But one of my dreams, one of my dreams, okay, is a child has to be ten years old to learn how to dive. It used to be 12. And my oldest granddaughter is nine, so maybe--I'd love to teach, before I have to quit, age wise, I'd love to teach them and take them on a trip with me. Now to me that would be the ultimate, even if I only get to do two or three of them.

Jones: Okay, that will probably happen.

Beason: Yeah, I'll really try to stay healthy to do that.

Jones: Well you look healthy, and you sound healthy, and you have the right mental attitude.

Beason: But I think out of all the things with the diving, that I'm proudest of, is every year I don't get to do it, but I've done it a lot. I'll find some child, some that just doesn't have the resources to take and pay for a course. And I work it out with their parents so that--and it's usually a single mom, and let that--and it's been mostly boys; not because I prefer that, but it just worked that way. But have them come over and we do some yard work together and I give them credit toward a course because I think they'll appreciate it more if they help with it. And we've worked it out. And I'd love to do more of that. It's harder than you think, to find children who want to do it and the parents let them do it, and--

Jones: Where do you go to find these children, through various services, or just your interaction?

Beason: Just through meetings, through friendships, just through know there's single parents out there and like I said it doesn't have to be that, but that's the way it's been. To say let me say, let me have, let me do this for them.

Jones: That's really volunteering to the Nth degree.

Beason: But you'll never know when you can influence that child.

Jones: That's right.

Beason: And they never ever have the opportunity to even see this beautiful stuff.

Jones: That's interesting. Janet, I have a sense that you're in a business now. You have, obviously risen, with the Jones family, their many endeavors to have good authority and that sort of thing. That must make you feel good, it's almost like being a CEO, and you are for all intensive purposes. And you have this outlet of diving, you can go back and take a look at where you came from, what you're doing. You just told us about what you do with children. Talk about your involvement with the domestic violence and also Thalian. I know you've been involved in politics to a certain level, and how you got involved with your volunteerism on a domestic level.

Beason: Well--

Jones: And what are you accomplishing?

Beason: I watch David do a lot of things as long as I've known him and I've always admired that. I did little things before the year 2000, some things. But in 2001 Louise McCall and some other friends kind of picked me up and said, here, you need to be involved in this. It started out actually with the Chamber of Commerce, which I still volunteer at every year.

Jones: With the Chamber of Commerce?

Beason: You know, helping them sell ads, getting new members. Because I think that we need for our community to have as many resources as we can with all the people coming in and I think that helps. That gives them the money to help bring in new businesses with that. So I've helped with that since 2001 and when I got on the Domestic Violence board, I was very honored that they asked me and I watched--we don't actually get to see the cases, but we know about them and sometimes they come speak to us. But whatever we do with our fundraising, it goes and helps those families. And I think by the grace of God that any of us could be there at anytime, and--

Jones: You're probably right. Now, they've got a new, or is it new, also trying to--I guess it started out with women and children. And now they've kind of spread to men.

Beason: They do service men. There are some men that come, you know, two to three a month.

Jones: There is a name for this. I can't remember what it is for the--and they're trying to enlist men.

Beason: Oh, Father's for Hope?

Jones: That's it.

Beason: Men for Hope.

Jones: Men for Hope.

Beason: Men for Change, I think they have too but, yes, they try--each year they have that fundraiser where they ask men in the community to come.

Jones: That's right, because I Jerry Porter for example.

Beason: Right, exactly. So that they can be more educated. So they can . . .

Jones: Jeffery Porter, I'm sorry. Jerry is behind us.

Beason: But yes, that was one of their programs. Also, help with the Willie Stargell Kidney Foundation.

Jones: The golf classic?

Beason: The golf classic, golf tournament they call it, you know. But it's really--it's raising money for kidney disease.

Jones: Which is what he died of, right?

Beason: That's what he died of. And there's a lot of work with that. The meetings start in July and the event's not until November. But I really enjoy doing that and of course I thought Willie'd love meeting all those baseball players, and the autographs.

Jones: What is it called?

Beason: Willie Stargell Kidney Foundation.

Jones: Every spring they have that.

Beason: Every fall, in November.

Jones: Fall?

Beason: In November. In fact, it's coming up as--

Jones: We have so many events that go on in this town.

Beason: Yes we do.

Jones: Let me ask you your opinion on something, since you are very involved with a lot of these needy causes. Does it seem to you or does it not, that as this city grows as this region grows, Southeastern North Carolina and soon it will be from Jacksonville to Myrtle Beach it's going to be all one. That it's a good thing up to a point, it really is a good thing because they get infusion of money and talent, time, ideas. But at the same time we have a need for more and more domestic needs that are not pleasant. It's not all immigration I think, it's people who have personal issues, children, that sort of thing. Do you find that to be true or not?

Beason: Are you asking if we're having too many fundraisers?

Jones: No, the fundraisers seem to become--the fundraisers, I think, are an outgrowth of all these different groups that have been channeled into these foundations. There's so many more now. And they all have a good cause, but are there too many?

Beason: No, I don't think there's too many.

Jones: Is it because we've grown so rapidly?

Beason: Definitely. I mean look at what we were in the early eighties. I didn't mention earlier that I lived here for three summers back in the sixties. I mean it was a tiny little place and it was still the eighties.

Jones: I was thinking of course, that I would come down to visit my in laws, and come down with the children in the summer to Wrightsville Beach. That was playtime, then we'd go home and moved here permanently just ten years ago. And even I that time--and of course, my husband, who's a native said I don't recall all of this. Either they ignore the situation or finally the people who moved here, they've been aware so they do something and the growth (inaudible).

Beason: Well it was such a small place, there probably weren't as many issues, until it started growing. And I think too with the people who have moved in from all over the country, maybe they saw needs in their area and then they came here and maybe they were being taken care of. But I think everybody that we've got a lot of good help with the people that moved here. They've brought a lot of talent, a lot of money, a lot of time.

Jones: They retired earlier, with good retirement income.

Beason: And because they were from larger cities they already knew a lot of the things to do that they already had experience with. So I think they've--the people moving in, for the most, part have contributed a lot to the area.

Jones: So the Willie Stargell Kidney Foundation event is a large one I know and they do raise a good bit of money.

Beason: Oh yes. Yes, they do. I still though--two of my favorites that are so simple the YWCA, has a lunch, a bag lunch. You've gone. And they raise all of this money and there's just a one day event and so is Good Friends, the same thing. They ask a bunch of women to come, they bring their checkbooks, they have a bagged lunch and they raise a lot of money. Sometimes I look at simplicity of that, versus spending, months on preparing. And I'm saying which is best? Because I'm a believer that if you're going to give money, you're going to give it.

Jones: Well, that's true. But do you feel, are you running into, since you're associated with so many events--we get invitations from everything that comes in the light.

Beason: Absolutely.

Jones: Once you give to one or two or three, you're on everybody's list. And you really have to pick your charities.

Beason: Yes, you do.

Jones: They're all so needy. Now recently, my husband received in the mail, you're talking about simplicity, this really was clever and to the point, a brown bag, a brown lunch bag and it was actually an invitation to him from a particular young black child to have lunch with him. Bring his lunch in the brown bag and sit down and talk to him, Boys and Girls Club.

Beason: Oh my goodness.

Jones: He said how can I refuse this?

Beason: No, what a good idea.

Jones: And all it's--I'm sure that this would segue into something else, but that simplicity. They weren't asking for the Hope Ball or the black and white or whatever, you know. A table.

Beason: Right, exactly.

Jones: And it was for a child who needs, and particularly with men, I think in certain communities here they don't have enough role models.

Beason: Oh I believe that. And sometimes I look at some of the things I'm involved in and while they're all good, the thing about our children to me is most important. I would like to gear more toward that. Because if they aren't taken care of--they're our future. And I believe education is the key to most of it. Through Louise and David I became involved with giving to UNCW as well as the Community College.

Jones: You're involved with the Seahawk Club right?

Beason: Well, I'm a member. I wish there was more ways to volunteer here to help. But I think that we have two great, great schools here. We are so lucky to have both of them in this area. But to me if you can establish some type of scholarship, it doesn't have to be a big scholarship, something to help. You know what, and it boils down it's not just kids, single moms that need a second chance to get some type of degree so they can earn a good living and not be on welfare.

Jones: How do you find time for all this? You've got a fulltime job with, what is the name of it now, is it David Jones Associates?

Beason: Well Pawn USA, David Jones Investments, David Jones Rentals, all of those businesses.

Jones: And you are actually . . .

Beason: In all of them.

Jones: Yes.

Beason: We just keep putting on foot in front of the other. And you don't sit down, because if you do you might not get back up.

Jones: Okay, but you really have taken over much of the responsibility there. And yet you're involved with these other things and charities. And you teach diving because you like it. How do you manage your time? You must have wonderful managerial skills.

Beason: Well, I believe that the computer world is great. And I don't have one of those Blackberries, is that what you call them? I don't have all of that, I have a paper calendar. And I write everything in it, where I'm supposed to be, who I'm supposed to teach that day. You know, so without that, you know, you have to keep things managed and make sure you don't book something when you already have something. But like I said, God just made me a strong person and I'm grateful for that.

Jones: Are you happy with Wilmington today?

Beason: I love Wilmington. The only thing, I don't count Wilmington's traffic problem as the worst problem. I don't. It's bad, but there's places that are so much worse. And is it getting better? Yes, it's getting better. I count our schools as our biggest problem. Having more classrooms, having enough schools where we don't have, we haven't budgeted enough, for example, and the new schools open the doors and they're already overcrowded. But I think money for our schools is the biggest thing.

Jones: What do you think of the Magnet School system?

Beason: I think it's a good thing. I mean I never had a child in it. And I don't know a lot about it except I have friends that have children in it and they love it. And I think, I don't know it, to me when they chose to do that, it was the, they were caught in the middle between two situations and that was the answer, between transportation and redistricting.

Jones: It's a lottery though. It is a lottery and each school has their own accent. And unfortunately this year until a little late, they didn't get the funding, two schools that needed it the most.

Beason: But I do think that's our biggest problem, not traffic.

Jones: But I think that's everywhere in the country.

Beason: I do.

Jones: Education.

Beason: And, see there's a lot of things I don't really--

Jones: And the teacher's hands are tied. And their mouths are tied, and they're teaching--they come out of school so boom, I'm going to set the world on fire. Then little by little it seems to be eroded by, you can't do this, you can't do that and you can't do the other thing.

Beason: Well, none of us want to pay more taxes. But if they said we're raising taxes to give teachers raises, I would not be opposed to that. If they were raising taxes for more schools, I wouldn't be opposed to that. Some things that I read about where our tax money goes, it bothers me. But, for that I wouldn't mind because I think they deserve more money.

Jones: They're taking their sample from the United States Congress and Senate who earmark every bill that goes through. Anyway, your accent then really is on young people, education, helping the youth get a start.

Beason: Right, absolutely. And you know, what do they call it, the transition--no, no, no. They're not ordinary students. People who start over at 28, 29 years old at 30and 40 years old have all of a sudden found themselves, I don't have a career.

Jones: Alternative students.

Beason: That's the word. Yes. I think that's so important.

Jones: We have a great number of them here on this campus.

Beason: That's right and I think it's very important. I mean everybody wants to be proud that they can support themselves. That's just a lot of them just need the opportunity.

Jones: Is there anything that you want to do that you haven't accomplished yet?

Beason: Yes, I want to go to college. I never went. Started a family young, didn't go, took courses here and there. And I still don't know what I want to be.

Jones: What kind of courses would you like to take?

Beason: Oh I don't know, I don't know if I'd like to gear into accounting, and I like it but I don't want to do it all day, okay. This is why I love my job with David, because I get to work with the managers and the employees and I'm not just stuck in books. Or would I want a business degree? Or maybe I should wait for the professor here to resign from teaching scuba diving. (laughing).

Jones: You know after a certain age here you get your classes for free. It's not for credits, it's for audit, but still.

Beason: But it's a dream to take some classes. I would like if I could graduated, but--

Jones: How are you going to fit that in with your busy schedule?

Beason: I'll have to figure that out. Maybe when my grandchildren get a little older, you know, but I will do something.

Jones: Good for you. What do you think this town needs? What do you envision for Southeastern North Carolina in the next five, ten years? You work with people in business, charitable, education, politics. Surely you have a feel of where we are going or what should we not be doing and what should we be doing and where are we going?

Beason: I think we're making a lot of right changes and when Wilmington and the surrounding area gets criticized for lack of managing the development, nobody knew. How was anybody to know this was going to happen in the mid eighties? It wasn't I don't think the City Council, or the County Commissioners or any mayors of any of the three counties closed their eyes. It just happened so fast. I think now that we're realizing some of the things they have to take care of like the sewer system, that wasn't. And I think that while Pender County and Brunswick County is growing rapidly, we'll still be the hub of it.

Jones: Well I've heard people say that.

Beason: That's what I think. It'll be the hub. And I think that they--it's good that Brunswick County is trying to do some different things that New Hannover County didn't the chance to do as far as development.

Jones: Because they're new.

Beason: Right. They already saw.

Jones: What do you think of a toll bridge, a flying bridge becoming a toll bridge?

Beason: I don't think we need it.

Jones: Okay, how about a Convention Center downtown?

Beason: Mixed emotions.

Jones: If it were used all year?

Beason: If it was used. You hear all these cities that say the convention center doesn't make money, so why should--

Jones: It doesn't have to be a Convention Center but we desperately need . . .

Beason: A center.

Jones: . . .a center.

Beason: Right. And I can't--all of the meetings and things we could have here that we don't have here. I'll believe that it . . .

Jones: It's a destination spot.

Beason: And it gives people jobs, and it should give them decent jobs. And the money is going to flow out from there to any retail areas. So to me even if it lost some money to start with it would be okay. But I do think we need that center.

Jones: Are you involved in any way with downtown growth?

Beason: No I'm not, really, I just keep up with it, but I'm not involved in any of it.

Jones: Ever thought of running for political office?

Beason: No.

Jones: Have they ever asked you?

Beason: No. Well, I helped--

Jones: For example the County Commissioners or City Council?

Beason: No. I would work behind the scenes with a person much better than I would do that. I have helped politicians. I am--I've been treasurer for several, am still a treasurer for one. I would love to help in politicians that I believe in. But I don't want to be in the lime light.

Jones: You're better behind the scenes.

Beason: I'm better behind scenes. Tell me what you want done and I'll get it done.

Jones: I'm sure of that.

Beason: But I don't want to--I don't want to be that leader, that type of, you know.

Jones: What have I missed asking you, because I'm not you.

Beason: Well, I think we've talked about everything that's important to me. I appreciate the opportunity being here. I love this university.

Jones: Good.

Beason: I really do. I look at this campus, how beautiful it is and watch the kids walking around when I attend functions here and I think, do they really know how great it is for them to . . .

Jones: Not yet.

Beason: . . .you know. But they will.

Jones: Have you seen the new Cultural Arts Building?

Beason: No I haven't, I haven't. But I just love the way they've kept the architecture the same. I love the basketball games.

Jones: I know that.

Beason: Unfortunately, I don't get to attend the baseball games like I do basketball, because of the time of the year. But I'm grateful for everything I have in my life.

Jones: Just look at you. She looks like a happy woman, doesn't she?

Beason: I am.

Jones: Well, you've accomplished a lot.

Beason: Well, thank you for saying that.

Jones: You didn't set out to accomplish all this, did you?

Beason: No.

Jones: You set out to do what? Be a wife and mother.

Beason: Mm-hmm, oh yeah.

Jones: Strange what happens to us, right?

Beason: Yeah. And the thing is, I've gone in and out of those roles, you know. So I'm fortunate.

Jones: Do you mentor anybody besides small children?

Beason: No.

Jones: You're just a good friend.

Beason: A good friend, I hope. I try to be. I like being a good friend.

Jones: I know you are. Well, Janet, it's been a privilege talking to you. And I think that--I'm trying to think now, what category we can put you in. We have little categories, you know.

Beason: Oh, okay.

Jones: You kind of transcend, that's a good thing.

Beason: It is a good thing.

Jones: That's a good thing. And someday come back and talk to us again.

Beason: I'd love to.

Jones: And keep in touch.

Beason: Thank you.

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