Formerly known as the gatekeeper between Dallas residents and their special event venue, Jill Beam is now reigning Ms. Texas Senior America.
My White Rock area running club once was discussing the possibility of holding a charity event at a Dallas park when a member of my team said, “Ha! You’ll have to get through Jill Beam first.” Yep, about right.
Always patient and cheery, she isn’t the type to let the power go to her head, and she never took herself too seriously. She was known to don costumes and sing showtunes in lieu of lecturing or simply wishing someone a spoken farewell (see video). She retired from the city last spring after 28 years of service, the final 14 spent atop Flag Pole Hill, she points out. Her official title those years was The Dallas Park and Recreation office’s Athletic and Reservations Manager.
No huge surprise, really, but impressive nonetheless — Beam just won the title of Ms. Texas Senior America, a pageant for women age 60 plus whose aim is to “champion healthy aging, wellness, and mental well-being.” Contestants exemplify the positive image of aging, according to Ms. Senior Texas promotional materials.
“This pageant has been going on since 1992 and was recently held at the Doubletree Hotel in Dallas last Saturday,” Beam tells us.
“There were 23 contestants vying for the crown,” she exclaims. The victory means she’ll compete in Atlantic City in October for Ms. Senior America, a national pageant whose philosophy is based upon the belief that seniors are the foundation of America, and our most valuable treasure, according to its literature.
Beam comes from a lineage of interesting women. Her mother is the locally renowned Rosemary Rumbley, actor, humorist, historian, tour guide and public speaker. For many years, Rumbley emceed the Ms. Senior Texas event. In part for that reason, Beam is super excited about her win. “I attended the pageants all these years she was emceeing, and I always wanted to be a contestant,” Beam says. She also is enthusiastic about the Ms. Senior Texas organization and its mission, which complements her own.
“My philosophy is based on Matthew 6:34, to live each day to the fullest and not worry about tomorrow and not to think about yesterday — it’s gone. Winners think differently; they think of how they have succeeded in their past. I think of my strengths and want to improve on my weaknesses. Winning this title is not just wearing a sash and a crown but it’s a job. It’s not about the accolades but it’s the glory of promoting senior women and to give them honor, as each senior woman has a story to tell of achievement and adversity.”
Jill spent many of her City of Dallas years working in Oak Cliff and actually married husband Ken Beam in Kidd Springs Park.
From 1998-2000 she was the manager of Churchill Recreation Center, in the Preston Hollow area.
She also teaches classes at Lake Highlands Jazzercise.
When she retired, her coworkers put together the tribute video that you can view below, which does a fine job of capturing her spirit and personality and the way people feel about her.
“She’s basically won every award ever given by the Park and Recreation Department, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Directors Award,” notes Willis Winters.
She is, essentially, Dallas’ Leslie Knope.