Jun 06, 1932 - Jan 17, 2017
Betty Gibson Brown Strickland, wife, mother, teacher, and lover of literature, passed away on January 17th, 2017, at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was 84. She was born in Newport News, Virginia, but her family moved to Tallahassee, Florida when she was young and she grew up there. Betty graduated from Leon High School in 1949. At Leon High she met her future husband, Don Edward Strickland. Both Don and Betty were members of the marching band – she played the flute and Don played the French horn.
Betty attended Florida State University. She was a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority and graduated in 1952 with a degree in journalism. She and Don married that same year at Lafayette Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, and they enjoyed 64 years of matrimony. They first lived in Tallahassee, but Don’s career in college administration took them to Jackson, Mississippi and Brevard, North Carolina.
Betty was employed at various times throughout her life on the staff of newspapers, as a teacher, and at Moon’s Jewelry Store in Tallahassee. Her passions, however, were her family, her friends, her social and church activities and learning.
Betty was involved in a variety of organizations, and she pursued each of them with enthusiasm, diligence, commitment and devotion. Her favorite by far was the PEO – Philanthropic Educational Organization. She joined in 1982 in Jackson, and later was a charter member of the Brevard chapter. A sister PEO described Betty as “such a good example of a truly devoted P.E.O. member. She was a strong leader, exemplifying all the treasures of the sisterhood - including entertaining in her home, participating at all levels and appreciative of the core values of who we really are - making a difference in women's lives.”
Betty was a lifelong Presbyterian and was active in the Women of the Church wherever she and Don lived. She served more than one term as President, and also served as an elementary school teacher, circle chairman, deacon and helped with numerous activities.
Betty’s interest in literature and learning was fueled when Don was a Vice President at Millsaps College in Jackson. She audited literature and history classes, filled notebooks with copious notes, and read many books by southern and other authors. She was an active and enthusiastic member of the Mathasian Book Club in Jackson, enjoying preparing and presenting programs on southern authors and artists. She was an ideal college administrator’s wife – entertaining and participating with Don in various college activities.
For years in Brevard, Betty was an enthusiastic and dramatic volunteer reader for first grade classes. She received many hand made letters of adoration from the children.
Betty is survived by two daughters, Rebekah Gibson Strickland of Atlanta, Georgia and Melanie Anne Strickland Renfroe (William O’Brien Renfroe) of Mocksville, North Carolina, as well as two grandsons, Daniel O’Brien Renfroe and Edward O’Brien Renfroe. In addition two brothers survive, Benjamin Daniel Brown Jr. (Carolyn) and Jack Anthony Brown (Vicki). Nieces, nephews and cousins survive as well. Her husband, Don, and infant daughter, Bonnie Ruth Strickland, preceded her in death. Her parents, Benjamin Daniel Brown and Ruth Virginia Gibson Brown, also preceded her.
Betty’s and Don’s ashes will be buried together in a ceramic urn made by daughter Rebekah. At a later date, a graveside service will be held at Roselawn Cemetery in Tallahassee. Memorial gifts may be made to Hospice and Palliative Care Center, 101 Hospice Lane, Winston-Salem, NC 27103.
Online condolences may be sent to www.salemfh.com.