Betty Jones Bridgers Cullen, formerly of Wilson, North Carolina, passed away Thursday, June 8, 2023.
Betty was born in Wilson, North Carolina on August 1, 1950. Her parents were the late Charles Alex “Buck” Bridgers, owner of Bridgers Paint and Wallpaper Co., and Mildred Lee Jones Bridgers. Betty grew up on idyllic West Nash Street amongst extended family, friends, and neighbors, “who shared joy and sorrow, and always lifted Betty in the knowledge that she was born in a community with the best people on earth.” Proud of her heritage, Betty carried forward the legacy of her Bridgers ancestors – that of hard work, determination, compassion for others, and a great sense of adventure.
From a young age, Betty helped with sales at Bridgers Paint and Wallpaper and worked as an Art Director in Wilson’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Outside of school and work, she relished her freedom to range in a supportive and safe community. By day, she biked around Wilson with friends, played basketball, softball, and tennis at the local Recreation Center, and took her poodle on long walks around town. Come evening, the return home would find friends and family socializing in rocking chairs on the porch. On summer weekends, Betty could undoubtedly be found skimming the Pamlico River’s waves from dawn to dusk on her Sunfish, or together with her father racing anyone who dared challenge Buck on his 300hp outboard Wellcraft.
Upon graduating from Ralph L. Fike High School, Betty attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) from 1968-1972. At UNCG, Betty joined the Outing Club where she climbed and rappelled Pilot Mountain, and where she piloted a 52-foot ketch for 11 days from Miami to the Bahamas.
Betty obtained a B.A. in Elementary Education from UNCG, and then set off for Virginia Beach. While teaching 6th grade at Princess Anne Elementary School, she met and married US Navy Pilot and Vietnam Veteran, Jim, who was flying A-6 Intruders off the USS Roosevelt in preparation for sea duty in the Mediterranean. After the wedding, Betty struck out for Europe for 4 months to meet Jim as the Roosevelt docked in ports spanning from Holland to Sicily.
With the Mediterranean tour of duty complete, and now rooted in Annapolis, Maryland, Betty went on to acquire a M.Ed. in Elementary School Counseling from the University of Maryland. She continued garnering credits throughout her life from the University of Virginia (in Gifted Education), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Old Dominion University. After Jim left the Navy, Betty and Jim relocated to Fairfax, Virginia where Betty taught 6th grade at Churchill Road Elementary School. Betty was known by colleagues, parents, and students to be an exceptional teacher.
Upon Betty’s retirement from the field of education, she dedicated her time to family, to continuing to improve the lives of others, and to Bridgers’ heritage. Betty was very much the heart of her family. Betty instilled in her daughter, Leigh, Betty’s tenacity, broad worldview, and ability to empathize. She introduced Leigh to skiing, sailing, and competitive gymnastics. Betty ensured Leigh was grounded in a solid education, and that Leigh explored both creative and scientific endeavors. Whether family or not, whomever Betty crossed paths with, she made lives better. Through her gift of communication and writing, Betty left people with hope, with a sense of purpose, inspired, and enlightened. Her reach extended beyond people, to assisting wildlife in need. Betty’s viewpoint could be described as selfless.
“To take stock of (the) present in light of (the) past,” and to progress the duties of her Bridgers grandfathers and grandmothers, Betty joined the Bridgers Family Association (BFA) as an active Hereditary Member and as a member of the BFA’s Board of Directors. Betty wrote and delivered speeches for annual BFA meetings and explored ancestral sites with the BFA, such as Jamestown, St. Luke’s Church (Smithfield, VA), and the cities and countryside of England. Read Betty’s BFA contributions here:
Betty is survived by her loving daughter, Leigh Elizabeth Cullen, and her husband, James Stephen Cullen. She also is survived by her brother, Ronald Keith Bridgers.
A graveside service for immediate family members will be held in July.
A memorial service and celebration of life will be held in Wilson, North Carolina at Joyner's Funeral Home, 4100 Raleigh Road Parkway, Wilson, North Carolina on August 1, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made on Betty’s behalf to the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation at NC State University. The foundation helps wild and domesticated animals across the state impacted by natural and man-made disasters:
North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation, NC State University, Winslow Hall, Campus Box 750, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7501 or by phone, 919-515-1981.
Condolences may be directed to Joyner's Funeral Home and Crematory at www.joyners.net.
Image caption: Betty Jones Bridgers Cullen and Silver Tango de Aristo
Condolences directed to Joyner’s Funeral Home and Crematory at www.joyners.net.