Birth Date: 05/31/1925
Deceased Date: 06/02/2021
Betsy Atkins Stancil 1925-2021
Betsy Atkins Stancil, the daughter of Ralph Thomas Atkins and Nan Matthews Atkins, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on May 31, 1925. As a child growing up during the depression, she was sheltered from the era’s struggles and spoke of her idyllic childhood swimming at the local pool, attending summer camp in the mountains, and having a world of music and friends in Raleigh.
After her sophomore year of high school, her father started a fuel oil distributorship in Selma. Moving to Smithfield, the family was warmly welcomed by the community which eventually became her home.
After graduating from high school, Betsy attended Greensboro College where she majored in voice and public school music. During Christmas vacation her junior year, she met Mokie Stancil at a party his sister was hostessing. Both Betsy and Mokie were quickly smitten, and after a few dates during the vacation, became engaged on Christmas Eve. It was 1944 in the midst of World War II. Mokie, being stationed in the Army Air Corps in Kansas, saw Betsy infrequently, but letters kept the “flame burning”. After the war ended and Betsy graduated from college, they were married on August 3, 1946. A move to Oklahoma City followed, where Mokie was working in the oil industry for the H.B. Mabee family, and Betsy taught music at a private school.
In 1948, expecting their first child, Mokie and Betsy returned to Smithfield to be close to Betsy’s terminally ill mother. Mokie joined Betsy’s father’s oil distributorship, and the couple established a life long relationship with the Smithfield/Selma community.
While Mokie was involved in the oil business and community organizations, Betsy was an avid homemaker raising a daughter and two sons. Throughout those early years, Betsy was active in Centenary United Methodist Church and the community as a soloist, and also in the Aeolian Music Club. After her children had grown up and established their own lives, Betsy taught piano at home. She had an unexpected career assisting her husband and son, Larry, with their first convenience stores. She became enthusiastic about marketing the business and enjoyed visiting families that were new to the community. Organizing the stores and meeting the public were a pleasure for her.
During this active period of her life, she and Mokie traveled to Europe, South America, and other parts of the U.S. to visit family and for Mokie’s involvement in state and national volunteer organizations. After air travel and extensive trips became less feasible, they joined a bus touring group traveling throughout the East Coast. For a period of years, they also had a townhouse on Emerald Isle near Morehead City where they were involved with the retired community.
Betsy was adventurous, ready to try a new place or recipe, but her garden was where she put her heart. She transformed her back yard each year into a colorful, artistic creation.
Throughout her life, Betsy had empathy for others. Her children remember accompanying her to deliver boxes of food to struggling families. Betsy also made time to visit nursing homes and take gifts of food to people in the community who were having health issues. She volunteered for Meals on Wheels and for the Centenary United Methodist Church Food Closet. She sponsored children in Haiti, the Middle East, and Africa through organizations for many years, excited to read their letters, see their pictures, and buy gifts for them. Giving to others was a joy for her.
For Betsy’s humanitarian contributions to individuals and for Mokie’s leadership as a volunteer in local and state organizations, both were honored as the 2007 Distinguished Citizens which was given by the Johnston County College Foundation. It was for a lifetime of service to one’s fellow man. The award sculpture is an outstretched hand lifting someone up in need.
Betsy and Mokie shared the last ten years of their lives together at home. Mokie began having 24 hour care after a fall with Betsy initially active outside of the home. Gradually, Parkinson’s took a toll and Betsy joined Mokie being cared for by loving caregivers. Yet, joy was present through the company of the other, the visits of friends and family, and the support of the church community. Betsy and Mokie were married for seventy-three years.
On December 13, 2019, Mokie passed into God’s loving realm. Betsy joined him on June 2, 2021 at home surrounded by family. Betsy and Mokie are survived by daughter, Brenda, and sons, Larry and Charles along with 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Special thanks go to Tammie Beasley, Maggie Buffey, Gloria Bonner, and Patsy Daughtry for their many years of devotion, love, and wonderful care for Betsy and Mokie.
A reception for the community to honor Betsy and Mokie will be held on Sunday, June 27th, from 2:00-4:00 P.M. in Wesley Hall at Centenary United Methodist Church, 140 E. Market Street, Smithfield, N.C. 27577. A private graveside service for both will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to the Centenary United Methodist Church or My Kid’s Club (P.O. Box 784, Selma, N.C. 27576).
Messages to the family may be left on Parrish Funeral Home’s Website: www.parrishfh.com.