Betsy Virginia Purcell

Betsy Virginia Purcell, 82 of Raleigh, North Carolina, died on Thursday, September 5, 2019. 

She was a loving wife and mother of three children.

  Betsy was born on November 23, 1936 in Danville to Dr. Charles Walton Purcell and Cleo Ashby. 

A 1955 graduate of Needham Broughton High School, she was elected first the female president of a class during eighth grade.

With her quick wit and bright smile, in 1956 Betsy reigned as leader of the 30th annual Terpsicherean Debutante Ball in Memorial Auditorium, where 173 debutantes from all over the state made their bow to society.

She went on to Virginia’s Hollins College and made the Dean’s List before she graduated in 1957. In 1959, she received a B.A. degree in languages from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

From 1973 to 1975 she used her interest in Raleigh’s history to good advantage as executive secretary of Raleigh’s Historic Properties Commission, with her office in the Mordecai House at Mordecai Square Historic Park. She started and oversaw all phases of docents, special events, and speeches. With her help, the commission was able to obtain many original Mordecai furnishings, as well as preserve the family papers and library. Her dogged efforts help save several other Raleigh properties as well. People remember her for how lovely and kind and smart she was.

Betsy was a lifetime member of First Baptist Church in Raleigh and gave of her time to the Junior League of Raleigh. A long time sufferer of multiple sclerosis, she was also on the board of trustees, Eastern Chapter, National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Betsy was preceded in death by her father, Walton, her mother, Cleo, and her son, Richard Makepeace, who died in 2004. She is survived by her husband, Patrick Simpson; two sons, Walton and David Makepeace; and several grandchildren, cousins and nieces.

A service to celebrate Betsy’s life was held on September 11, 2019 at First Baptist Church, 99 North Salisbury Street in Raleigh at 2:00 p.m., burial followed at Montlawn Cemetery. The family received friends in the church parlor from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m before the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Multiple Sclerosis Society or to First Baptist Church.

Arrangements by Brown-Wynne, 300 Saint Mary’s Street, Raleigh, North Carolina.

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