Mary Harrell Thomason Reed, 91, known to all as “ Grandma Betty”, joined many family & friends & her Savior on Monday, February 8, 2021. Born in Durham, NC, she was the daughter of Mae Garrett and Garland Childress, step-daughter to Jack Garrett, and sister to Bobbi Brummitt and Patti Dewitt.
Betty was a graduate of Durham High School. She spent her entire career in the insurance industry, obtaining her LCIW and retiring from Collier Cobb & Associates in 1991. She served three terms as president of the Durham Association of Insurance Women, one term as president of the North Carolina Association of Insurance Women, and was Insurance Woman of the Year in 1967 and 1987.
Betty had an adventuresome spirit and loved to travel and explore and try new things. She took several cruises with family and friends including Alaska and the Baltic Sea. She explored castles in Switzerland, pushed her walker through the Alps, explored Pompeii, rode motorcycles, and enjoyed touring England, France, and Germany. At 80 years of age she went sky diving, and at 85 went to a high school reunion and came back engaged! Nothing stopped Betty from living her life. When she was no longer able to walk, she did not complain. Instead she did the “ twist” from her wheelchair, played games and always won, and traveled the halls of her nursing home passing out gifts, smiles and treats.
Betty had a giving heart and spent her entire life helping others. As a young girl she served in the Civil Air Patrol, and in her early married life she fostered children from a local orphanage over the holidays along with her husband EuGene Harrell Sr. She served in church choirs and taught Sunday School for over 40 years. She served in soup kitchens, senior centers and nursing homes. She was a financial supporter of Samaritan’s Purse, St.Jude’s Hospital and Wounded Warrior.
Betty was a kind and loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend. She is survived by 5 children: EuGene Harrell, Dewey Harrell, Jeff Harrell, Sherry May, and David Thomason. She is also survived by her daughters in-law Orleandra Harrell, Mary Kay Harrell, Pam Thomason, her son-in-law Victor May, and several nieces and nephews.
Betty was blessed with over a quiver full of grandchildren: Chanel and Chavez Harrell, Byron Harrell ( Anne Maitre), Nicole Reynolds, Marissa Griffin, Nick and Meghan Harrell, Chelsea Alberty ( Brian Alberty), Steven, John, and Kate May, Shanna (d), and Crystal Thomason. She was even more richly blessed with 12 great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank Newburgh Healthcare and Kindred Hospice for their devoted care.
Betty will be most remembered for her adorable sense of humor, kind spirit and forgiving heart. Heaven is a little brighter with her shining in it, earth is a little dimmer now that she is gone.
“…And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Psalm 23:6