LOUISBURG - Born June 26, 1931 in Franklin County, she was the daughter of the late Quinton S. Leonard and Sallie W. Leonard. Betsy was a 1949 graduate of Mills High School. She attended Meredith College and received degrees from Atlantic Christian College (BA) and East Carolina University (MA). She married John C. Pernell in 1950 and they spent the next 61 years living on the Leonard Family Farm until his death in 2013.
She had a distinguished record of service with educational and public affairs. Her long involvement in education began with a teaching assignment at Bunn High School. She joined the Louisburg College faculty in 1960 and retired in 1995 as Chair of the Business Department. She was president of the Franklin County Classroom Teachers Association, district president of the NC Educational Association, secretary of the American Association of University Women and was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma.
Betsy was active in state and local politics for many years. She served the citizens of Franklin County for 8 years as a member of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. She also served as Vice-Chair of the Region K Council of Government and was appointed by Governor Bob Scott to serve on the N.C. Rural Beautification Committee.
She served on the NC Democratic Executive Committee and was appointed by Governor Bob Scott to the NC Democratic Study Committee. She also served as chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Executive Committee, vice-president of the Young Democrats, Franklin County precinct chairman and was a member of NC Democratic Women.
Betsy was a life-time member of the Maple Springs Baptist Church where she served as a Deacon, Sunday School teacher and had a special interest in the beautification of the church grounds. She was also a member of the League of Women Voters, Franklin County Morehead Selection Committee, Franklin County Library Board of Directors and the Franklin County Mental Retardation Council.
She is survived by her son, John C. Pernell, Jr. of Johns Island, SC; daughter Ellen P. Stainback and husband, Jerry, of Henderson, NC; granddaughters, Rebecca Stainback of New York, NY, Charlotte Bachman of Niceville, FL; and seven great-grandchildren. Also surviving are nieces Martha L. Mobley of Louisburg; Sallie G. McDonald of Oxford, NC; Betty P. Keel and Joyce P. Valentine of Rocky Mount, NC; and nephew, Steve Pernell, also of Rocky Mount, NC. She is preceded in death by a granddaughter, Ellen P. Jimenez.
The family will receive friends at the Pernell home at 402 Leonard Farm Road. A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held on Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 5 p.m. at Maple Springs Baptist Church, 1938 NC Highway 56 East, Louisburg, NC. A private family burial will be held at the Maple Springs Baptist Church cemetery.
Memorial gifts may be made to Maple Springs Baptist Church-Grounds Committee, 1938 NC Hwy 56 East, Louisburg, NC 27549.
Arrangements are by Strickland Funeral Home & Crematory, Louisburg, www.stricklandfuneralhome.net.