RIP Mary Kay Beard, Notorious Safecracker Turned Angel Tree Founder


RIP Mary Kay Beard, Notorious Safecracker Turned Angel Tree Founder
April 20, 2016|9:34 am

Don and Mary Kay Beard walked into my life one Sunday morning in 1984 like a mother and father goose trailed by a brood of scrungy ducklings.

They made their way down to the front pews, and sat under my nose as I stood in the pulpit of the somewhat pretentious sanctuary of the Birmingham church where I was pastor. It was as if Mary Magdalene and Levi the swindling tax collector had married and brought forth children after their kind.

I and the congregation might have been truly aghast if we had known these visitors were a convicted embezzler and notorious bank robber-expert safecracker whose lovely face had once been featured on an FBI Ten Most Wanted poster. Their brood of ducklings consisted of more jailbirds and social misfits and castaways.

Mary Kay Beard passed from us on April 17, and I am having a John Donne moment. It was he who said, in paraphrase, that he was diminished by the passing of every person. My world shrunk when Don died in 2006. Now there’s a bigger hole in the world because Mary Kay is gone.

Being honest, I had not heard of Mary Kay Beard or her husband, Don. I’ve certainly heard of the ministry they started that became part of Prison Fellowship. They were the sort of people who are almost unknown, while improving their community, nation, and even world.

Part of the reason people like the Beards are near-unknowns is that they do not seek fame, not even for the sake of their work. OTOH, and sadly, the MSM folk who could make them known either are so detached from the “world” in which the Beards live that they have almost no way to learn of them, or have a worldview that doesn’t know what to do with people like the Beards, and thus such people are consciously ignored.

This article stays clear of such thoughts and focuses on who she was and what she did.


I wasn’t familiar with the names, but I’ve heard of the Angel Tree project. Chuck Colson spoke of it, and it was mentioned on an episode of Touched by an Angel.