Bette Dean Lilley Crisp

Published 1:16 pm Thursday, May 23, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. — Bette Dean Lilley Crisp passed away on May 22, 2019, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was a 50-year resident of Franklin, Virginia, where she was a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church. She was born on March 20, 1928 in Norfolk, Virginia, to very young parents and was raised as an only child in Savannah, Georgia.

She left this life as she lived it: peacefully, graciously and quietly. She would tell you that she accomplished little and made no mark in the world, but her family would respectfully disagree. She embodied the best of the Southern woman. A master at keeping her countenance, she could move mountains with a single look or inflection. There was a calmness and stillness in her home that most people would wish for while she managed her household with a steady eye on fiscal responsibilities and the future.

Known far and wide for her sour cream pound cake and sweet iced tea, she filled her home with the best of Southern cooking. She raised her children to go out into the world, to stand on their own and to squarely face the sometimes harsh challenges of adulthood. She accomplished this by making certain that her children had all the advantages she never had, by pushing them to achieve those goals of which she thought herself incapable and by instilling her own honest courage in both of them. She placed her children before all and herself, last.

Mom was an excellent judge of men. Her first husband, Charles, enamored of her blue eyes, asked her to marry him on their first date. She demurred, as a Southern woman should, and waited until the third date to accept. Charles, too, was an only child and together these two determined Depression-Era young adults created an environment of complete security and stability for their family, even while moving them to New Zealand in 1960 before commercial jets were available.

Mom and Dad had 48 happy years together, although they did argue once about kitchen curtain back in the 1950s. After that, either there were no more arguments or those that occurred were whispered.

After Charles’s death in 1995, Mom lived independently for six years and then she married Jim. He and his late first wife, Irene, had been friends of Mom and Dad for decades. She and Jim courted for about a month before deciding to marry, requiring some fairly frantic planning by their children. Perhaps it was the year, 2001, when the world seemed turned upside down by 9/11, that helped form their decision, but they wisely chose not to delay the inevitable.

At their wedding reception, a guest was overheard grousing about how Mom found two good husbands when most could not even find one. Mom just seemed to know when a man was good. She and Jim were perfect together and joyful at having each other to share the last phase of their lives. And their children were more than happy to see them enjoy such kind companionship. They would have celebrated their 18th anniversary this December.

There are different ways of making your mark in the world. Mom did it by her unselfish devotion to family, by the perfection with which she tackled all tasks and interests, by her unwavering honesty, her will of iron, her thoughtfulness and her grace. And she set the bar high for those who follow. Our future will include many quiet moments considering and honoring her lessons and we will regularly turn to her advice and guidance which is now embedded in our DNA. We hope that we have successfully passed Mom’s lessons and her guidance to our next generations.

Mom was preceded in death by her first husband, N. Charles Lilley. She is survived by her husband, James O. Crisp Sr. of Raleigh; her two children, Chuck (Mary) of Charlottesville, Virginia, and Candice (Bruce) of Raleigh; and stepson, Jimmy (Debra) of Raleigh.

She adored her four grandchildren, Todd (Meade), Traci (Michael), Chad and Benton and step-granddaughter, Abbie (Pier); and her eight gorgeous great-grandchildren.

We extend our most grateful thanks to the staff of Sunrise at North Hills, Raleigh, for their unwavering compassion to Mom and her family over almost five years; to Donna Smith of Transitions Lifecare, Raleigh, for her patience and understanding; and to the many kind sitters of visiting angels, especially Gwen, who helped keep Mom safe for many years.

While the journey of chronic disease of any kind is quite painful, we have also learned that it is guided by a community of unselfish, often over-looked caregivers who truly are guardian angels.

Funeral arrangements are being managed by Mitchell Funeral Home of Raleigh and Wright Funeral Home of Franklin.

Condolences to the family at