Kay Beard recently visited Judson College to speak to students about events that helped her turn her life around. -- Special photo

Beard speaks at Judson

Published 9:43pm Saturday, February 11, 2012

MARION — She’s been described as looking like a “sweet grandmother,” so it’s shocking to hear Mary Kay Beard talk about having been on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Beard made her seventh visit to Judson College recently to speak to students, faculty and staff in weekly chapel, and remained to visit with Dr. John Weber’s criminal justice students that afternoon.

“My life story is a good example of how not to do it,” she said with a smile.

Raised in Missouri, Beard never missed church as a child and teenager.

But her life took a new turn when she agreed to a blind date. She married less than two weeks later not knowing that her new husband, an entertainment promoter, was an ex-con, a gambler and a bank robber. Soon they began a life of crime together.

“I had nice things and plenty of money,” Beard said. “But as the Bible says, ‘we deceive ourselves.’ I knew what I was doing was wrong.”

Later her husband abandoned her and Beard continued her life of lawlessness.

After her arrest, Beard faced the possibility of spending the rest of her life in jail.

“I was wanted in four states and had 35 warrants,” she said.

Since “Alabama” was first in the alphabet, she was remanded to the Jefferson County jail in Birmingham pending trial. Through the influence of a group of Christians who taught Sunday School in the jail, Beard gave her life to Christ. She was sentenced to 21 years in prison and sent to the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka. Later Beard moved to a half-way house in Auburn where she took courses and worked at Auburn University. More than 80 people wrote the parole board on her behalf and she was released after serving five years.

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