University Communications

The Newsletter for Marshall University    August 11, 2010

Profile: Linda Beaver - a series on interesting Marshall University people

Although it didn’t seem like it at the time, losing her job as a pharmacy cashier turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Linda Beaver. After all, this sunny optimist is a firm believer that when one door closes, another one undoubtedly opens. And sure enough, that open door let her straight to the Bursar’s Office at Marshall, where’s she’s been now for 26 years.

“I was working at a local pharmacy in Barboursville when they were forced to cut their staff in half. We were raising three sons at the time so this was quite a blow. But I had two sisters that worked at Marshall, (Nancy Dingess, who is retired from the Student Center and Karen Kirtley, who now is the Assistant Vice President for Administration) and they knew of an opening for a cashier, so I applied and was hired. Actually the job turned out to be much more than a cashier but that was fine with me,” says Beaver, who is an Accounting Assistant I.

And updated technology has brought monumental changes to the way business is conducted in her office, but that’s been all to the good, she says. She remembers the days when everything had to be meticulously written down by hand and there were long lines of students snaking through the halls. Now there are rarely any lines and up-to-the minute financial information is available at the click of a key. 

“Everything is computerized now, completely streamlined. It’s much better for everyone—students, parents, and staff.  They can go online and find exactly where their account stands. I’m a big fan of technology and the changes it has brought!”

A native of Huntington, Beaver graduated from Huntington East High School and married her high school sweetheart, Jim Elliott. With their three sons, James III, Jeremy, and Jeffrey, life was busy and good for this active family. Then tragedy struck in 1997 when Jim lost his battle with colon cancer. “I had such an outpouring of support from my co-workers and the Marshall family and from my church that I truly believe that God led me here in the first place. They supported me in every way and helped me get through a terrible time.” And today she’s a fervent advocate of everyone having colon check-ups and paying close attention to colon health.

Her husband’s illness led her to become a volunteer for Hospice, which aided the family during his final days. “It’s a wonderful organization; they help you get through really difficult times,” she say quietly. “Their philosophy is to approach care in the home, to provide comfort—physical, emotional and spiritual—and to promote the dignity of the terminally ill person. Because of their help with my family that’s why I became a volunteer.”

And through her church, the energetic Beaver created the birthday ministry, which works with the Huntington City Mission to provide birthday parties for children who otherwise would not have them.  As president of the United Methodist Women’s group at her church, the Community of Grace United Methodist Church in Huntington, she was already immersed in the worldwide mission outreach projects that the church encourages, but she was looking for a need closer to home. After talking with the director of the City Mission’s Project Hope, she thought, "Why not give a birthday party for a child who otherwise might not have a birthday observed?" The suggestion immediately struck a chord with the director because just the week before a mother had come to the mission asking only for a box of cake mix so that she could bake a cake for her child.  So thanks to Beaver’s efforts, the birthday ministry was born. Each month members of her church prepare a gala party for a child with a cake, gifts, drinks, decorations, even plates, napkins and eating utensils—in short, everything that is needed for a celebration. "It’s been a great success but I certainly don’t do this alone,” she says modestly. “We try to have the party on the child’s actual birthday if at all possible and we do everything possible to make it a very special day for the birthday child.”

It’s no coincidence that family celebrations are so close to her heart. Since her marriage to Charles Beaver in 2000, there is now a blended family with her three sons and his two daughters Andi and Sonya and 10 grandchildren in all, ranging in age from age 3 to 20. They’re scattered now. Andi and Eric Simmons live in Indianapolis; Sonja and Bill Harochuri are in Dayton, Ohio; James and Melissa Elliot also reside in Indianapolis; Jeremy and Joann Elliot live in Alabama; and Jeff and Karen Elliott are nearby in Barboursville.  But no matter the distance the close-knit family members make every effort to get together as much as possible, on holidays; on special celebratory days such as her mother’s recent 90th birthday, when they threw a big gala party; and in the summer on vacations, preferably at the beach. At home, the Beaver have a pool, which makes hosting big family events even more festive. Avid Marshall fans all, they especially like to meet up at athletic events such as the upcoming Ohio State game in Columbus.

And they truly bleed green. They’re not fair weather fans—they’re always there to support the teams through good times and lean times. “We love all Marshall athletics and we have season tickets to football and basketball.  We try to go to all the home games and to as many of the away games as we can. We always look forward to being joined by other family members whenever possible.”

Her 26-year tenure in the Bursar’s office has allowed her to observe not only physical changes to the office but also a passing parade of students. Now she’s seeing former students bring their own children to their offices. “It’s a hands-on kind of job and I like that. I love dealing with students and we stay busy year around.” The offices are now located in what used to be the old Marshall theater in Old Main.

And to help her keep up to date with the latest developments in her field, she even made time to go back to school and complete a degree in accounting from the then-Marshall Community and Technical College.

Even off the job Beaver maintains many Marshall connections. She makes time to serve on the Administrative Board of the United Methodist Church through the campus ministry. And, she explains, she even met her husband through a Marshall connection when her friend and co-worker Arlene Ferguson introduced them.

So that long-ago downsizing actually opened a whole new world for her. And these days life is very full. “Working, visiting family and having them come here, church groups, going to games, whatever we can do to celebrate family, that’s what makes us happy.” 

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