‘Your Heart Grows When You Give’ Meet mom, model and volunteer Susan Beesley
It takes minutes to know Susan Beesley’s heart, though learning her story could take a lifetime. With classically long hair, pink lips and large round sunglasses, Susan walked into the office of Prime Publications carrying a suitcase full of memories, ready to share her story, and as she opened up her suitcase and her heart, the details from her career as a model, mother of two, wife and, eventually, vital community volunteer cascaded out, filling the desk with memories.
Susan grew up in the San Fernando Valley. A shy girl, the natural beauty never imagined she would spend her young adult life gracing billboards and movie screens. After urging from family and friends, however, she began entering beauty contests at age 22, and at 23, she was scouted by an agency. The rest, as they say, is history.
“[Modeling] gave me the confidence I didn’t know I would need later,” Susan said.
During her time in the industry, Susan worked with Coca Cola, Clairol, Virginia Slims cigarettes, and she was featured on the screen in South American Connections and the Troy Corey Show. One opportunity led to the next as she began rubbing elbows with celebrities and big names of the day, even joining Alice Cooper on stage for his show at the Hollywood Bowl. Once she met her husband Geoffrey, however, all bets were off.
The couple fell in love and made the move to Santa Clarita in 1976 with their 10-year-old Michael and six-month-old son Geoffrey. In their early days in town, Susan used the photography skills she learned from her father to gain employment with NBC and the Hollywood Women’s Press Club, bringing in some extra money at home.
After the birth of her second son, Susan entered the workforce, writing for The Magazine of Santa Clarita as the Women in Business columnist, as well as a managing the local Stein Mart. As she began to connect with female professionals in town, Susan saw the value in investing in the town where her children lived.
Susan joined her sons’ Parent Teacher Association at Meadows Elementary School, moving on with them as they grew through Placerita Junior High and Hart High School.
“It was something I could attach to that would make me feel good and make my kids feel good,” Susan said fondly.
Thriving in her position on the PTA, Susan branched out through the urging of local friends like Cherie Fleming and Adele McPherson, taking on volunteer positions with the Christian Women’s Club, Assistance League of Santa Clarita, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Home Tour League, American Red Cross and more. Though she didn’t begin volunteering until the late 1970s, Susan grew up in a family who saw charity as a vital part of life.
“My dad always told me: ‘You get nothing out of life unless you’re willing to put something in it,’” Susan said. “He gave me the inspiration to stay with something I have my heart in.”
Her husband Geoffrey also gave Susan the courage and drive to volunteer in town.
“My husband encouraged me to do what I wanted to do, and he never discouraged me,” Susan remembered with love and affection of her husband, who recently passed. “He inspired me by not giving me a hard time about doing what I wanted to do.”
For 33 years, Susan has given Santa Clarita the helping hand it always needs, especially through her work at the Home Tour League with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
“The hospital has saved my family more than once,” Susan recalled. “I just grew to love the hospital. I’ve watched them grow from a community hospital to a giant.”
Aside from volunteering, Susan spends her days as a doting grandmother to Kendal and Liam, caring for them in the same way she cares for Santa Clarita.
“Who knows where I would be if I wasn’t a grandmother,” she said.
Reflecting on her storied past, Susan feels incredibly lucky to have lived such a full and meaningful life.
“I learned a lot. The passions I had in me were [always] to help other people,” she said. “You just have to ask yourself what you’re willing to do. I’ll keep working in the Santa Clarita Valley until I can’t anymore. I never want to leave.”