Pam Clark is all too familiar with the 20th of the month, mainly because she has been the Payroll/Benefits Supervisor for the school district for 21 years. For all of those years, she has handled monthly payroll, filed 941 tax returns, workers’ compensation, monthly retirement benefits, billing reconciliation, communication of benefits and much more.
She said, “ Every job I’ve ever had was in human resources of some sort.”
From working at a dental office, graphics business, and even a funeral service corporation, Ms. Clark has a knack for numbers, which caught the attention of Larry Parsons, the Chief Financial Officer for the school district at that time.
She said, “Larry Parsons called, I just stepped out on faith. Elsa Smith was retiring. She did insurance.”
Since that phone call 21 years ago, there have been lots of changes in technology and payroll in the district.
She said, “I started on the AS400. In 2010, we went through a Skyward conversion. The first payroll was manual time sheets and a Chronos time clock. We first printed the TRS forms, then sent in a reel to reel tape to TRS, then diskette, then a track system log in you would upload on the computer.”
Through all of the changes, one thing remains the same, her love for helping people, especially when it comes to helping those who are about to retire.
She said, “I have people who don’t understand come to me. It can be a scary time. They want to know ‘Can I afford to do this?’ Then after we sit down they say ‘I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner!’”
Her favorite part of the job is her co-workers. She speaks very highly of Charlotte Bynum, the Chief Financial Officer of the district, and her direct report.
She said, “Just this past Friday, Charlotte Bynum took the entire department out to lunch to thank them for help with the audit. She allows her employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability. I want her to know that Demetra and I work to do this part of the job so that she doesn’t have to worry.”
She is also grateful for Demetra, who works with bi-weekly payroll and insurance, who Ms. Clark calls her ‘sister by another mother’.
She said, “Demetra and I are cut from the same cloth.”
Ms. Clark was born in Jasper but moved to Lufkin very soon thereafter. Her dad worked for the telephone company. On his way to Fairfield, he stopped in Lufkin and applied for a position with Lufkin Telephone in 1958. He was hired on the spot.
After the family moved to Lufkin, she and her sister and brother attended Lufkin ISD. Ms. Clark enjoyed health co-op in high school and was an officer in Future Homemakers of America. She and her family attended Denman Avenue Baptist Church where they are still members since October 1958. She and her husband, Raymond, helped in the Preschool ministry. Her husband especially loved helping with the little ones.
When it was time for them to have a little one of their own, they resorted to adoption. Coran was a day old when they brought her home.
“It was June 7 while we were sitting in church. The young couples sat on the pew together. The hospital called the church and said we were having a girl. The message was passed down from person to person to the end of the pew. Raymond said, ‘I told you it would be a girl.’ I got up and went around to tell my mom and dad. I looked up and everyone in the choir had tears,” she said.
Coran had big brown eyes and was a daddy’s girl. Ms. Clark agreed with a friend who told her ‘God didn’t choose you for Coran, God chose Coran for you.’
Coran loved to sing and play piano. She was in band and won medals in choir.
Although the 20th of the month was always payday, there was one payday that Ms. Clark will never forget, the day her husband passed away at the young age of 45.
She said, “It was thirteen years ago January 20th. We always had lunch together and when he didn’t show up at noon and then one o’clock and hadn’t called, I began to worry. “
Her husband worked at Lufkin Telephone just like her father did. When she got the call, she thought he must have fallen from a telephone pole.
She said, “There were three Pams working here at the time and when the city dispatch called and said my husband was in an ambulance heading to the hospital, I wasn’t sure they had the right Pam. Then Steve Chandler who worked with Raymond was at my door. I asked what is it and he said we need to get to the hospital.”
When Ms. Clark arrived at the hospital, the emergency room was filled with members of Denman Avenue Baptist and her husband’s co-workers from the phone company. She still didn’t know what had happened.
She said, “Brother Charles came and got me and took me to a different room. I knew he was gone. He said maybe not. The doctor came in and said ‘we did everything we could do.’”
“He was out at Crown Colony sitting in his truck and a co-worker saw him. He looked like he was just sleeping. The co-worker opened the door, and he wasn’t responding. He had a heart attack. He was a picture of health. Played softball, only 45-years-old, never complained. He was just awarded for 19 years of perfect attendance at work. The doctors said that two of his main arteries were 99% clogged and two were 70% clogged,” she said.
Through this tragedy, Ms. Clark’s work family has stayed by her side and supported her. She also uses this experience to talk to co-worker wives who are going through the same thing she did.
She said, “It gives me the opportunity to have conversations with other women who are going through what I went through with Raymond. God’s grace is sufficient. It’s the only reason we get up every morning, because of His grace.”
Ms. Clark, without you, 1,300 people wouldn’t receive their paycheck on time. Not only that, your sweet, quiet spirit inspires each of us to be better people. You were the right person for the job at the right time. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to your job and your co-workers.