Miss Betty Doesn’t Miss a Beatby Mai-Lis on February 11, 2019
People of CLT, meet Miss Betty. Since long before most of the buildings in Uptown were standing, she’s greeted Queens University students, faculty and staff with hot meals, a warm smile and impromptu dance sessions.
If you have had the privilege of meeting Miss Betty at Queens University, you’re one of the lucky ones! She is as authentic and loving as they come. Unforgettable. Her playful and tender spirit will make you laugh and cry and fills your heart with love. No doubt, she gives more than she receives, so let’s all give Miss Betty some love.
Happy belated birthday to you, Miss Betty!
Yes, January 28th was my birthday. To celebrate, I danced with the kids. We have a dance party in the dining hall, where I work as a greeter, every Wednesday and Friday: Wednesday because it’s hump day, and Friday because it’s a playdate! [laughs]
Speaking of celebrations, you just celebrated your 57th work anniversary with Queens University. What keeps you so committed?
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be around a lot of kids. At first, I came to only visit the school. But, when they offered me a job, I said to myself, I’ll give it a whirl!
You certainly have given it quite the whirl! Where else have you worked?
Queens is my first and only employer. I have never had another job and never will.
That’s quite the compliment to Queens! May we ask your age?[laughs] You can ask, but I am not telling! I don’t tell anyone.
Is it true that you have never taken a sick day?
It’s true. I have never called in sick. Like I said, these kids keep me healthy. My children at school keep me happy and healthy.
What about a vacation day?
I take the month of July off and then come back to help with summer soccer camps at Queens. If your children have ever been to one of our soccer camps, I’ve met them!
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?
I don’t like going many places, so I sit on my front porch and do crossword puzzles. It makes me happy. I can’t keep up with Charlotte’s growth. I like the peace I find on my front porch.
Ever tried doing a crossword puzzle on your phone through an app?[laughs] I don’t know anything about phones. I had one of those flip-flop phones and it was just fine. My granddaughter then gave me a smartphone. I don’t know anything about it and I don’t want to. I know one button on my phone. Every morning after I get to work, I hit that button to wake up my great-grandkids at 6:20 AM. There was nothing wrong with that flip-flop phone.
Those flip phones were definitely much simpler! So what time do you get into work?
I’m at the dining hall every morning by 6 AM to get the coffee going. Since I don’t drive—I never have—a coworker picks me up. When I get off of work at 2:30 PM, another coworker brings me home. They are really nice. They sure are.
You must live close to Queens. What part of town do you call home?
I was born and raised in Charlotte and don’t need to go anywhere. I like it here. I have lived in Dilworth for 63 years. I love it — I can walk everywhere.
What are some of your favorite walkable destinations?
When the Panthers are at the stadium, I walk over there to see the players get on and off the bus. It’s really exciting. But all those people! [laughs]
Since I don’t eat while I’m at work, I head over to Price’s Chicken Coop when I get home. In the evenings, I walk to one of my favorites, Midnight Diner. But, I also love seeing my boyfriend — well that’s what I call him — at Sauceman’s. He is real nice. Blaze Pizza is also a place I like to eat. I order the meat-lover pizza and love how I can watch them make it.
What’s been most notable change at Queens since you have been there?
Queens University was a Presbyterian female college when I first started working here. The school was made up of all girls with only two dorm buildings. When the girls went out with a boy, they had to sign out and meet their date in Burwell Hall and then sign back in. We had rules back then. Now everyone just does what they want. They go here, they go there …
Times have certainly changed! How did you first react to the school becoming coed?
Queens’ then President, Dr. Wireman, called me into his office and said, “Sit down, I have a surprise for you.” I thought, “Oh boy, what is it?” Then he said, “We are going coed. Do you like it?”
I replied back to Dr. Wireman, “Let me think about it.” For two days, I thought about it and then went back to him and said, “I’d rather have my own boys than those Davidson boys.” I was tired of running them off out of our dorms. [laughs]
Dr. Wireman was one of your mentors. How did that relationship come about?
My positions at Queens have included special assistant to the president, housemother, health care center assistant, and “doyenne” of the dining hall. While I was assisting Dr. Wireman with his position, he took me under his wing and became my mentor. He inspired me to always do my best with his advice: Never say I can’t. Say, I’ll try! I have always followed that advice.
How many Queens University presidents have you known throughout your 57 years?
My tenure spans four Queens’ presidents (soon to be five) and 10 U.S. presidents.
You have a connection to the Mayor of Charlotte. How so?
Mayor Vi Lyles was one of Queens University’s first Black female students. I got to know her when she attended college here. I see her every once in a while, along with other alumni—I never forget any former student.
Any advice for the students of Queens?
Do your best. Don’t give up—if you do, you’ll never make it. Try to go as high as you can. This is the advice that I have followed throughout the years.
I also give daily advice like, “Your pants look sloppy, pull them up! Why do you look so tired, you need more rest!” And you know what, they pull them up and then ask me if they look better. And they sure do! But I’m not sure if they are getting any more rest!
It sounds like you have playful, yet meaningful relationship with the students at Queens!
I love playing with and taking care of my kids. If they tell me that they aren’t feeling well, I’ll look for someone to cover my position while I walk them down to the health center. These Queens kids are like family to me.
How do you begin and end each day?
When I wake up, I say, “Thank you Lord for giving me another day. Please don’t let anyone mess with my kids today.” And when I go to bed, I say, “Lord, please give me another night so I can go back to my kids the next day.” [cries]
Queens University has been your family and home for almost six decades. Ever think you will retire?
No. But I do know what I want my next position to be: I just want to walk around and visit with the kids. Talk to them. Find out how they are doing. Take care of them. Yeah, that’s what I want to do next. This is a good place to work. I’m not kidding… I’m just so thankful. [cries]
Watch Miss Betty Break it Down!
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