White Deer Land Museum

Laketon – Early Farming Community (Continued)

James And Beadie Baird – First Couple To Marry At Pampa Army Air Force Base

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

On August 21, 1943, Frederick W. Brook and Virginia Line were married at the Pampa Army Air Force Base chapel before it was finished.

Captain Maurice Garner performed the ceremony and his daughter, Nancy, played the piano and was the bridesmaid. Nancy and Virginia were former roommates.

Possibly other couples were married at the base before the chapel was completed, but James and Beadie Baird, who married on September 10, 1943, were the first couple to be married in the PAAFB chapel after it was finished.

James and Beadie Baird were the first couple to marry at Pampa Army Air Force Base.

James Grundy Baird was born six miles north of Hugoton, Kansas, on July 22, 1921. His parents, Harry and Katie (Bowden) Baird, had married immediately after their graduation from Sam Houston State Normal Institute, Huntsville, Texas. They taught in Brown County, Texas for several years before going to Hugoton, Kansas, where Harry managed a small cattle company while Katie taught. When James was about 16 years old, the family moved to Brownwood, Texas.

James had two older sisters, Kathleen Elizabeth and Amy Lee, and an older brother, John Harry.

At one time James had thoughts of becoming a doctor but that ambition did not materialize. After he graduated from high school at Littlefield , Texas , he joined the air force and was sent to Ellington Field between Houston and Galveston .

At Ellington Field, James worked with S/Sgt William Lewis Epps, who lived with his wife and baby son at an army installation called “Dog Patch” in Houston .

In November, 1942, Sgt. Epps was put in charge of an old WW I railroad car and about two dozen enlisted men. James was one of these men who would become the key personnel of the Pampa Army Air Force Base.

None of these men had ever heard of Pampa , Texas . They left Houston on a slow train and arrived in Amarillo two and one-half days later. On November 17, 1942, they were delivered to the Pampa base in G.I. ten-wheel trucks. As there were no mess hall facilities, the men were fed at the Schneider Hotel for several days.

In the spring of 1943, Sgt. Epps’ wife, Evelyne, with their son, Andy, and their baby daughter, Barbara Jean, arrived in Pampa . On Mother’s Day, Sgt. Baird took Sgt. Epps’ family to Sherman to visit Evelyne’s family. There he met Evelyne’s sister, Beadie Judkins.

Willie Elveda “Beadie” Judkins, daughter of W.T. and Jewell Inez Judkins, was born in Van Alstyne, Grayson County , Texas . Her sisters are Evelyne Epps and Doris Smith of Levelland , Texas . Her father called her “BB” which became “Beadie,” the name by which she has always been known.

Beadie’s ambition was to be an air line hostess, but that changed when she met James Baird.

James, who was in operation at PAAFB, was able to get flights out of Pampa and flew to Sherman for thirteen consecutive week-ends. Finally the office manager at PAAFB said, “Sgt. Baird, I wish you’d go down and marry that girl so I can get some work done here.”

James Grundy Baird and Willie Elveda Judkins, who were married on September 10, 1943, were the first couple to be married in the chapel at PAAFB.

For a time, James and Beadie rented a house on the Borger highway from Tommy Clayton whose parents founded Clayton Floral Company. The Bairds’ twin daughters, Joretta Fay and Loretta Kay, were born on February 11, 1945.

When James was discharged from the air force in September, 1946, he and Beadie were planning to move to Denver , Colorado , where James was to work for an air line. Instead, he went to work for the Texas Highway Department, After 35 years with that department, he retired on May 1, 1980. Then he worked for Kelley Engineering, a consulting firm, and still works part time.

After the twins started to school, Beadie worked for Soil Conservation with Doug Cunningham.

Joretta Fay, a R.N. who taught nursing, was killed in an automobile accident in 1981.

Loretta Kay, who married Kelly Robinson, lives in Wimberly, Texas . The Robinsons have two daughters and a son.

On April 27, 1991, James and Beadie received the Seven Who Care award from TV Station KVII in Amarillo . They are following the example of James’ father, Harry Baird, who was a deacon in the Baptist Church . He was known for helping others whenever there was any need, and it was often said that Harry “deeked” whether or not the others did.

The Pampa Army Air Force Base chapel before it was finished.

Captain Maurice Garner performed the ceremony and his daughter, Nancy, played the piano and was the bridesmaid. Nancy and Virginia were former roommates.

Possibly other couples were married at the base before the chapel was completed, but James and Beadied Baird, who married on September 10, 1943, were the first couple to be married in the PAAFB chapel after it was finished.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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