Elizabeth “Betty” Walters Reid, 97, of Southern Pines, formerly Mary Elizabeth Walters Smith, of Rockingham, passed away peacefully Tuesday, June 8, 2021, at Belle Meade. She led a long “charmed” life surrounded by family and friends.
Betty was born Oct. 7, 1923, in Sumter, S.C., daughter of George Douglas Walters and Eva Dornin Nicolson, but she was raised by her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth and Henry Clay Wall, in the historic Leak-Wall House in Rockingham. She felt privileged to grow up there and learned at an early age the importance of helping others and giving back to the community. In 1944, Betty graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she met James “Jim” White Smith, who was in Navy Preflight School. They were married on Sept. 15, 1945.
After their wedding, Betty and Jim returned to his hometown of La Mesa, Calif., where their three children, Bill, Steve and Liz, were born. Although she loved the avocado trees in the backyard and watching the whales migrating up the California coast, she was happy to return to North Carolina in 1954 to raise their family.
Once back in Rockingham, Betty volunteered in numerous community activities serving on the Hospital Auxiliary, as president of the L.J. Bell PTA, and as a Cub Scout den mother. As a member of the Church of the Messiah in Rockingham, she worked on the Altar Guild, taught Sunday School and was president of the ECW. Along with her mother and aunts, she spent countless hours crafting needlepoint cushions for the church’s altar. After Betty and Jim relocated to Pinehurst, she enjoyed gardening, playing golf, traveling and reading. She maintained her ties with Rockingham through her support of the Richmond County Historical Society, helping restore the Leak-Wall House and Garden, and later, a country cemetery, with the help of the PeeDee Committee of the Colonial Dames of America.
In Pinehurst, Betty and Jim were neighbors of Lorraine and Walter Reid, whom they had known since the 1960s. They became great friends, traveling to Scotland, Bermuda and other places to play golf. The Reids visited Betty and Jim at their vacation home in the Dominican Republic and they shared Christmases and took cruises together. As couples, they decided to buy adjoining cottages at Belle Meade Retirement Resort in Southern Pines.
After Jim’s death in 1998, Betty moved to Belle Meade, where she maintained an active lifestyle. She took computer courses at Sandhills Community College and volunteered at Sandhills Horticultural Gardens. She began tai chi and yoga classes. Betty possessed organizational skills second to none. Serving on many committees, she presided over projects, always with the aim of creating beautiful spaces for others. She was always willing to help and to give generously of her time, and often, to share her candid opinion or quick wit.
In 2000, she started a new chapter of her life with her second husband, Walter W. Reid III. Together they traveled the world, often including family on their trips, creating memories for them all. Walter’s invention of the Charms Blow Pop enabled them to share their good fortune and the FirstHealth Reid Heart Center is named in their honor. Many people have memories of always being offered a Charms lollipop when visiting Betty.
Betty loved sharing stories of growing up in Rockingham. She talked about the dining room chairs stuffed with horsehair (not comfortable if you wore a light summer dress) and her first wedding during a hurricane. Five minutes after meeting you, she would know your stories, too, where you were from, your marital status and all your children’s names. She reminisced about taking the train to St. Mary’s School where, during World War II, one of her professors would convince the girls to contribute their ration of sugar and butter and make a cake for all to share.
She believed in continuing education, historical preservation, excellent health care and appreciating the beauty around her. Her signature color was blue, and her favorite ice cream, strawberry. No doubt, her favorite candy was Charms, but recently her candy jar was filled with Werther’s Originals and Hershey’s Nuggets with Almonds.
Betty is survived by her children, Steven Dunham Smith and wife, Anna, of Raleigh, and Elizabeth Ann Smith, of Charlotte; daughter-in-law, Virginia “Ginger” Gregg Smith, of Lexington, S.C.; William and Nancy Reid, of Pinehurst; six grandchildren, James Marshall Smith and husband, David Hathaway, of Raleigh, Gregg Henning Smith and wife, Kathleen, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., Alexander White Smith and wife, Evelyn, of Lexington, S.C., Bess Smith Pitt and husband, John, of Raleigh, Anna Miles Garrett and husband, Grayson, of Signal Mountain, Tenn., and Steven Dunham Smith Jr. and wife, Allison, of Raleigh; and seven great-grandchildren, Ava, Olson, Cort, Liza, Hayes, Smith and Gray.
She was predeceased by her two husbands; and recently by her oldest son, William “Bill” Nicolson Smith, formerly of Lexington, S.C.
The family would like to thank her compassionate caregiver, Rachel Erbschloe; FirstHealth Hospice and Palliative Care, and the entire staff at Belle Meade and Caritas, who helped Betty and her family during the past 22 years.
A memorial service will be held at The Village Chapel in Pinehurst, at 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 15.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Belle Meade Education Fund for Employees, 100 Waters Drive, Southern Pines, NC 28387; Foundation of FirstHealth, 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374; the The Leak-Wall House and Garden (Richmond County Historical Society), P.O. Box 1763, Rockingham, NC 28380; or to a charity of your choice.
Online condolences may be left at www.bolesfuneralhome.com.
Services are entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.