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Pembroke telephone pioneer dies at 84
Ivey Lee Beardslee described as humanitarian who did everything she set her mind to

Ivey Bacon Beardslee, longtime owner of Pembroke Telephone Company and lifelong contributing member of the Pembroke community, died Sunday at the age of 84.

"There are not enough adjectives to describe her," Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook said. "She accomplished so much as a woman. I don’t believe there is anything she set her mind to do that she didn’t do. And she did it all while raising three daughters after losing her husband."

Cook said Beardslee’s loyalty to the city of Pembroke was second to none and Beardslee was just a phone call away if the city ever needed help with anything.

"She did so much for the citizens of this community that I don’t think people realize," Cook continued. "She was a great humanitarian. And her children and grandchildren are the same way, so her legacy will continue in this town."

Paul Boyette, Beardslee’s grandson, said his grandmother taught him "the value of perseverance and "not giving up when times get tough." He said she was extremely dedicated to her family and her friends, which includes people from a wide range of economic backgrounds.

"She believed in this community and giving back to it," Boyette said. "She also believed in the power of education. She even put together a scholarship fund at Georgia Southern."

Beardslee has strong roots in Bryan County, her family having lived in the Pembroke area for more than a century. Her grandfather helped survey sites on horseback for rural mail delivery and was the first rural mail carrier in Pembroke. Her parents, Ulysses J. and Lillian Carter Bacon, had four children who were all born and raised in the Pembroke area: Aileen, Gerald, Ralph and Ivey.

Beardslee’s parents raised their four children here in Bryan County. Beardslee married Paul Beardslee, a member of the U.S. Air Corps who served during World War II as a tail gunner. She herself served in the Women’s Army Air Corp during the war.

In 1946, the couple purchased the local telephone company. Paul Beardslee was killed while stringing wire in 1951, leaving Ivey with three young daughters and a company to take care of. At that time, the offices were above what is now Gabby’s Grooming Shop on Bacon Street. They worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week without holidays -- answering phones, tracking down the local doctor when needed while literally building the phone system with their own hands.

Through the years, Beardslee served as everything from lineman and operator to accountant.

Under her leadership, Pembroke Telephone Company has donated funds, hours and energy helping out with toys for children at Christmas, decorating at the homecoming events at Bryan County High School, sponsoring teams for the local recreation association, providing sponsorship for Pembroke family festivals, Relay for Life, the American Heart Association and supporting the local schools and library.

"She was one in a million," said Pembroke resident Laverne McCoy. "She was a very hard worker and lived life to the fullest."

Beardslee remained active in recent years by staying involved in her church, the Pembroke Library and various civic organizations, such as the Lion’s Club and American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

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