I have only written a few of these articles about women of substance. Many women are deserving of this honor and the women I have written about have been very good friends of mine as well as friends of their community. The lady I’m writing about today was a very unique woman. I have tried to remember when I first met her. I know it must have been many years ago when we were working to get the Parish House organized. Betty Norvell was a very well educated woman who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Greensboro College in North Carolina, a Master of Fine Arts degree from Ohio University in Athens and later a Ph.D from West Virginia University. Betty joined the staff of West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon and became director of drama and instructor in speech, dramatic arts and English. Betty had knowledge of the Bible and was really good with Bible prophesy.
Betty loved her church, her friends and community. She loved music. Betty loved to sing, write poetry, and she loved to tell stories. Betty enjoyed her friends and neighbors and was always kind and generous with those around her. She never met a stranger and always made those around her feel special. Betty was very well educated but never used her background to make others feel uncomfortable. I enjoyed working with Betty at the Parish House, the Christmas Store and other special projects for the community. Betty and her husband Richard donated and set up a special prayer room in the Parish House which was and still is used by those who need a special place to talk with God. Betty loved to play the piano and did so at the Baptist Church. She made various CDs of her music with local vocalists and wrote books of poetry. My favorite book is Betty’s stories of her conversations with her cat Purr. “Talking to Purr and Raising Peaches” is a delightful book of stories that tells the reader how cats deal with history and various issues in and around our world. Betty sometimes shared stories about Purr and Peaches in her column she wrote for The Record Delta. Betty could take a subject and create a discussion between her and Purr. One of Betty’s stories was her discussion with Purr about Shakespeare. Each of her stories about Shakespeare was written with a special cat in the place of the Shakespeare character. Julius Caesar was the Great Caesar Tom. Betty explained to Purr the special occasions we have such as Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day and Easter. Betty even wrote New Year’s resolutions for Purr. The stories Betty wrote are amazing and one gets an idea of Betty’s imagination and her joy of life. Betty loved adventure and she sure took her cats along with her on the journey.
Betty and I were good friends and could talk for hours about anything. Betty was a good listener and sometimes she would let me know just how she thought and felt about an issue we were discussing. We never argued and we never got bored with our discussions on world affairs, Bible prophecy, the issues facing our country, our community and what we might do to make a difference in the lives round us. Betty loved everyone, was interested in the betterment of her community and worried about the dramatic changes in our world. She had opinions but never put down those who disagreed with her ideas.
Betty and I had lunch together often and always found something to talk about. We would laugh and then agree that we would have to go to lunch again to take up where we left off. The last time Betty and I had lunch together was in June. I picked her up and we went to the 88 for lunch. We were there for about two hours eating, sharing dessert and talking about many things. I took Betty home and we sat together for another hour discussing some of her plans to do a new program with Channel 3. Betty and Bob Heavner had done Bible Pathways several years ago and Betty wanted to do another program about Bible prophecy. She had some other ideas for the station but was waiting until she felt better before planning the project. Unfortunately, this did not come to pass. Betty’s illness finally took her home to be healthy and to live with the God she loved so dearly.
I went to Betty’s memorial service at the Baptist Church last weekend. Many of Betty’s friends, college peers, neighbors and church friends were there. Many told stories of Betty and how they came to know and love her. There were pictures of her at church, in organizations, with friends and some of her when she was a young woman. She was beautiful. Betty was always beautiful, warm, loving, humble, and had a great and constant love for her God. She was dedicated to her family, friends and especially her two pals Purr and Peaches. Our community is richer for having Betty Norvell involved over the years. I learned so much from Betty. I will miss her wonderful smile, her friendship, our talks and her laughter. I know Betty is in a better place with those she loves. Betty will be missed by those who loved her but she will never be forgotten. Every once in a while something will be brought to mind and we know it is Betty who brought it there.
I leave you with this thought: Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.