When I was mayor of Kalispell, my mother’s biggest fear was that I would swear on TV during a council meeting. Perhaps the only reason I made it through my term without publicly cursing was because of the influence of professionals in my midst that seemed to be able to hold their powder and use appropriate grammar when relaying a position. One of those influencers is Dennis Beams, a senior leader at Glacier Bank.
Dennis is a consummate professional and an asset to this community. I have never heard him speak a harsh word, gossip, or lose his temper. On issues of community interest and public policy, Dennis is rather circumspect. He provides excellent perspective gained from years of being in the trenches helping to build our community and its character. Dennis has never been just a bank executive or loan officer; he has been a model professional leader that many of us try to emulate.
Now Mr. Beams expresses that he is retiring. Yet, all of us who know him know that he isn’t retiring at all. Yes, he may not be on the bank’s payroll, but anyone who knows him knows well that Dennis isn’t going anywhere. A little more time on the golf course and some traveling, maybe. But I have no doubt he will remain a pillar and active volunteer in our community. His passion for the Flathead Valley knows no bounds, and it’s evident that he takes joy in all things that improve lives in Kalispell. All of the conferences, the Chamber events, and the volunteer and nonprofit endeavors Dennis has organized and participated in could not have occurred without him. The fact that retirement for Dennis means “unpaid work” is a relief; this community is nothing without devoted citizens like Dennis.
I rarely do anything I don’t want to do, but Dennis has this gift of convincing me to show up at events I would otherwise decline. And I am better for it, having never regretted attending any event Dennis has encouraged me to attend. His approach to newcomers in this community is beyond reproach; he exudes kindness and is welcoming. Even when Dennis was skeptical of a young 32-year-old unknown candidate for mayor, he asked tough questions with tact and a warm disposition. I may never know if he believed I had the chops to make it as Mayor, but he sure showed grace while cross-examining my aptitude
As he enters retirement, we owe Dennis a debt of gratitude for making this community a better place than he found it and for bringing many of us together, ostracizing no one and chronically erring on the side of inclusivity. I can only hope that someday my mother is as proud of me as Dennis Beams’ family surely is of him.
Tammi Fisher is an attorney, former mayor of Kalispell and host of the Montana Values Podcast.
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