Bessie Leona Fisher Chisum
Bessie Leona Fisher Chisum, 75, of Beaumont, passed away on May 30, 2020, at her home. She was born on March 22, 1945, in Lambert, Mississippi, to Mary Lula Dean and Thomas Earl Fisher.
Bessie received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and a Master of Arts degree in Spanish and Linguistics from Louisiana State University. She also studied at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey and enrolled in post-graduate studies in Madrid, Spain.
On December 22, 1973, Bessie married Stewart Chisum, and they resided in Beaumont for more than 40 years. Stewart passed away on December 27, 2019. They were members of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Beaumont. As a couple, Bessie and Stewart were team sponsors of the church’s Senior High Youth Group and, later, Sunday School team teachers to the Senior High School students.
Professionally, Bessie was the owner of Chisum Resource Management, a business development and strategic planning company based in Beaumont, founded in 1993. Before founding her company, she was a life and health insurance agent for 15 years in the Beaumont area and began her professional journey as a public-school educator on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the mid-60’s.
She left her mark on the community in Beaumont and Southeast Texas through her active participation and leadership roles in many organizations. Bessie is a past president of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas and Beaumont Main Street; past chair of the Beaumont Historic Landmark Commission and Jefferson County Historical Commission; and past chair of the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce. She was a past president of the Association of Texas Leadership Program and a 2001 graduate of Leadership Texas. She served on the boards of the JASON Alliance of Southeast Texas, Lamar Institute of Technology Foundation, Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce as Advisory Director, Rotary Club of Beaumont, Beaumont Heritage Society, Newcomers Club, Altrusa Club, East Texas Venture Capital Club, the Tyrrell History Library, and had served as chairman of Kaleidoscope.
A 1979 graduate of Leadership Beaumont, Chisum is a past recipient of the Leadership Beaumont Distinguished Alumni Award; Active of the Year of the Junior League of Beaumont, Athena Award, Don Kelly Southeast Texan of the Year by the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission, Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Association of Community Leadership and Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International and Hall of Fame of Texas Rotary District 5910.
Bessie served Leadership Southeast Texas (LSET) for 25 years as the sole executive director since the organization’s inception in 1993. She loved the nine-county regional organization and was dedicated to providing leadership education programming for all participants. Today, more than 1,200 LSET graduates have an immense impact on the communities where they live and serve. Bessie retired in 2018, but her legacy will continue within the organization for years to come.
Bessie was preceded in death by her husband, parents, grandparents, Simon Dean and Bessie Bridgforth Dean, and aunts Rebekah Dean and Dora Dean Pennington. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Blair Chisum Erwin and her husband, Steve, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; her cousins, Dudley Bridgforth and Sissy Bridgforth of South Haven, Mississippi and Barry Bridgforth and his wife, Ann, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, as well as a host of nieces and nephews, and many beloved friends.
A gathering of Bessie’s family and friends will be from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., Thursday, June 11, 2020, at Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont. Her graveside service will be 2:00 p.m., Friday, June 12, 2020, at Highland Park Cemetery, Sicily Island, Louisiana. Please observe social distancing guidelines.
Memorial contributions in Bessie’s memory are suggested to an organization of one’s choice or St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 1350 North 23rd Street, Beaumont, Texas 77706.
- Sicily Island, Louisiana
- 2:00 pm
Gathering of Family and Friends
Gathering of Family and Friends
- 2000 mcfaddin street beaumont tx 77701
- 1:04 am
I knew Bessie and Stewart for so many years when I lived in Beaumont. You always knew how much love for each other and cared about everyone they met. Both were very involved in the community . I know they are together again loving each other
Mary O Englander
My heart is sad and so grateful for all she did for Beaumont.
Such a loving and caring woman. Praying Godâ€™s comfort for her family.
I will miss my friends wonderful wisdom and wide smile. Beaumont is far richer because of Bessie.
She made me hers. I will always look for Bessie L. Chisum over my shoulder. Eternally grateful.
Bessie, you will always be one of the best with your optimism, idealism and highly developed sense of justice. You believed in helping young people understand the importance of engaging in issues that affect everyone. In a word, leadership. You taught people how to stand up and be responsible. I will miss you as this community already does.
Bessie was a rare jewel. Just seeing her walk through the door made me smile. She use to share stories about herself that brought many laughs between us. RIP dear lady. You have finished the course.
Bessie's passion for connecting people and improving our region was inspirational. She has a true legacy in SETX. Will miss you Mrs. Bessie.
Becky & Rodney Ames
We always enjoyed the opportunity to visit with Bessie. She gave a lot back to Beaumont and you could always depend on her to go the extra mile. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Adieu, my friend. On behalf of Youth Leadership Southeast Texas at West Brook High School, which Bessie initiated, as well as a raucous and trusting friendship through the years, I'm going to remember the good times often. There are so many. âœŒâ¤