Following a fierce battle with metastatic colon cancer that began in Jan., Pamela MacKay Belden Wallack died peacefully on Tuesday, Dec. 15. She was surrounded by her devoted husband and their three children. Together they cared for Pam with selflessness and love. Pam was 61 years old.
According to doctors, Pam’s 10-month survival was a medical anomaly and a miracle that offered her the precious gift of time with her family. Pam was a force, a determined patient, and a warrior who would not give up. Her husband, children, and medical team worked tirelessly, tending to her every need and treatment, all while giving her hope for the future.
Pam grew up on Catawba Island. She attended the area’s public schools. In 1977 she graduated from Port Clinton High School, where she made some of the most enduring friendships of her life. She was a synchronized swimmer – a Dolphin – and her “vertical” was amazing, as were her early leadership skills as the president of the club and this talented group of young women.
She matriculated from the University of Vermont in 1981 and began an impressive and fulfilling career in the world of fashion retail. Her career began with the Lord & Taylor retail training program. This program helped to build the foundation for a 40-year career in retail, where she would hold prominent executive positions at various companies. Pam was the President and CEO of David’s Bridal which brought her full circle from working on the bridal collection at Laura Ashley 20 years earlier in her career. Her most notable time was spent at the Gap, a company full of people who became a second family to her. Pam made it known that working for the Gap was always more than a job. She had boundless talent, brilliant business acumen, a keen eye for fashion trends (these skills are attributed to and influenced by childhood shopping trips with her mother Anne), sheer grit and determination, and an unparalleled work ethic. She was a respected, trusted, talented and innovative trendsetter, businesswoman, leader, and advisor. She changed the trajectory of the careers for many of her associates by teaching them “the business” and for sharing her best practices and experiences.
Pam was a loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, and mentor – just a few of the many roles she was so proud to have. Her personality was larger than life and she could light up any room while her famous laugh filled it. Pam had the biggest heart, and her generosity was endless. She took care of those who needed a helping hand, never asking for anything in return. Her home was always open for friends and family where she loved cooking and entertaining, creating beautiful gatherings for holidays and celebrations. Pam was the number one hostess and knew that no party was complete without good wine, beautiful flowers and the people she loved the most.
Above all she loved spending time with her husband Jack, the love of her life, watching their three children grow into their own and become people they were both so proud of. Emily, 29, is following in her mother’s retail industry footsteps, Chris, 25, is building a promising career after his graduation from Villanova University and Ally, 22, will be graduating from Pam’s alma mater, the University of Vermont, in the spring of 2021.
Traveling was something they loved to do together and Park City, Utah became the family’s favorite destination over the last 18 years. Jack’s love for skiing was the catalyst for creating everlasting memories in the mountains. These trips resulted in buying a home out West to enjoy for years to come with family and friends. Pam had ultimately planned to retire with Jack there one day, joking about becoming chair lift operators together. One of Pam’s favorite spots on earth was in Park City, a place which she appropriately named, ‘Nirvana’. After a day of skiing she would bask in the sun at the base of the mountain, enjoy a glass of wine, relax and reflect on the life she and Jack had built and all they had to be thankful for. Pam’s family plans to continue these traditions she so firmly put in place in all of their lives.
She is survived by her dedicated and loving husband of 31 years, Jack and their three children – Emily Anne, Christopher Peter, and Allison MacKay. Pam is also survived by her wonderful mother Anne Belden of Catawba Island. She is predeceased by her father Rodney Belden who died in June 2018.
Pam’s siblings and in-laws are mourning her death with broken hearts. They include Deborah Belden Wierzba (Phil), David Belden (Diane), John Belden (Libby), Missy Belden Cross (Scott) and all their children and grandchildren.
Pam is predeceased by her in-laws Peter (2015) and Katie (2019) Wallack, and brothers-in-law Peter Michael Wallack (2019) and Rick Schlegel (2018). She is survived by Peter’s wife Ellen, Mary Wallack Schlegel, Judy Wallack Moor (Joel), Jane Wallack Guzauskas (Dan), Sarah Wallack Horton (Tim), Terese Wallack Waldron (Peter V.), and Bill Wallack (Amy).
All told – she had 25 nieces and nephews and 25 grandnieces and grandnephews. She treated each of them as though they were her “favorites.” And they were. She mentored many of them in their careers and offered sage advice and a special friendship. She enjoyed being with her extended family and her own family went the distance to be together with loved ones.
In lieu of flowers, Jack and his family ask this of Pam’s loved ones and friends: Make the time to schedule an appointment and to see your doctor annually. Get a physical, a colonoscopy starting at age 45 or earlier, and be involved and invested in your health. Take whatever early diagnostic tests are available. Do not allow the pace and demands of your daily life to take you away from your health, your future, and that of your family and loved ones. Pam’s family is actively working towards establishing a foundation, so that her life and legacy will live on through this powerful message. Please visit www.postable.com/pamelabwallackfoundation to provide relevant contact information, so the family can keep all interested parties apprised of future plans.
Memorial services for Pamela Belden Wallack will be in Port Clinton, Ohio on Dec. 29th. A celebration of life will be held at a later date in 2021.
Pam will be laid to rest on Catawba Island.