A living legend, Pam Raymond’s life story is one for a sweeping Lifetime biopic. In a casual interview with her, the rich and famous lives she has encountered and mingled with are enough to dazzle even the most seasoned of reporters: she attended finishing school with young Ethel Skakel; had dalliances with Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, and Rod Stewart while playing an internationally known character in a soap opera; she has lived in over 100 countries; and she was the protégé and confidante of the icon Tallulah Bankhead.
But all that aside, what Raymond is proudest of is her impact on the town of Sayville to preserve what she calls “a true, blue-collar sensibility about community,” through decades of change. She has served as a beacon for both feminism and her steadfast conservatism, stating, “they’re the same thing! They both want more freedom for the individual,” in a contemporary time when these schools of thought find themselves diametrically opposed to each other in cable news. Such is the effortless beauty of Raymond, who has carved out her innovative role in the town by being a force of all movements instead of having a limited agenda.
The main proponent of the now-institutional Keep Islip Clean program in the Town of Islip, Raymond felt that recycling needed to be a community effort. Indeed, all her initiatives have been at heart with keeping the community together. Even in her late 70s, Raymond has an intimate grasp of the ongoing opioid epidemic that has claimed millions of young lives. A recovering alcoholic herself, Raymond has offered her assistance to those still struggling with addiction by allowing them into her home in the middle of the night to hopefully stave off drug use by providing an avenue of communication.
“With both parents working, it’s not possible to have the same oversight kids used to have, and we’re seeing the effect of high taxes and stagnant wages with needing a dual-income household,” Raymond laments of the current financial issues faced by most families in the neighborhood.
An obvious and most fitting choice as a patron of the arts, Raymond has led and even personally funded many arts programs in the community through her leadership with the chamber and the Rotary Club. Most notably, Raymond is responsible for funding the sprawling pergola in the Common Ground that has become a fixture for community events throughout the year. One of her most lighthearted and beloved programs is the annual Rotarian pet parade in Sayville, where the glamorous Raymond dresses up as Cruella de Vil and dog lovers’ unite in faux-terror when she drives and demands their puppies.
“It only works because everyone knows how much I love animals. And that’s the key to having fun; people need to know you well,” Raymond said of her parade antics.
Current Greater Sayville Chamber president, Eileen Tyznar, who was present for the interview as a ruse to collect information on Raymond for a speech granting her a lifetime achievement award at the upcoming Chamber Installation Dinner, said, “The greatest compliment I was ever given was when I walked into Café Joelle and a teacher in the district said, ‘Are you the new chamber president?’ And when I said ‘yes,’ she said to her table, ‘She’s the new Pam Raymond!’”
As Raymond continues her ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease, she is still as sprightly and energetic as a ever, with plans to redo her new cottage home.
“When I lived abroad—Greece, Australia—I would take these 300-year-old homes and Americanize them!,” she boasted of her well-traveled youth.
Her new digs, a cozy retreat, is slated to be renamed “Hidden Cottage,” as Raymond is relying on her pull with the Sayville Historical Society for approval.
Asked of her plans and wishes for Sayville, Raymond said, “I want Sayville to continue to be a place where you can start humbly and live the full American dream. This is what this country is based on.”