Betty Brown Jordan (Bentley) Perry
Betty Brown Jordan (Bentley) Perry, of Lawrenceburg, TN, passed away peacefully from a brief illness at the age of 90 years young on Sunday, April 2, 2023, surrounded by her immediate family.
She was born on October 22, 1932, on a farm in the Gum Springs community. She had a large extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and could spend hours weaving the tapestry of her family. She grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, but her stories were of cousins, animals, and not behaving like a young lady. She often told us about getting dirty, being fidgety, or injuring herself. She graduated from Lawrence County High School in 1951 and then from Florence State College (now the University of North Alabama) in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in education. She would later go on to earn a master’s. She taught home economics at Summertown High School in the 60s. Her catch phrase was “Sit down, be quiet, and pay attention!”
After marrying Elliott Perry on June 1, 1967, she and her family moved back to the family farm in Gum Springs. She continued her teaching career at E.O. Coffman Middle School teaching science and reading. Her students remember her catch phrase and also her tugging at her menacing bra and telling it just like it was. She was loved and respected by her students. She would often be met in public by a former student and they would fondly recollect time in her classroom. She once attended a reunion of the 1967 Lady Eagles Basketball State Tournament Team, and all those women turned to high school girls again, giggling and crying over their beloved Mrs. Bentley joining them. She once had her car break down right before an important lunch with friends, and she was picked up “hitchhiker style” by a former student who vowed to take “Mrs. Perry anywhere she wanted to go.” Her former students took special care of her everywhere she went, be it Striker’s, Kroger, or the public library.
After retirement in 1993, she became a full time golfer at the Lawrenceburg Country Club, a volunteer with the Pilot Club, and a world-traveler. She visited Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Europe, Turkey, Great Britain, South America, as well as many points in North America like Alaska and Nova Scotia. She also contributed to animal and environmental conservation efforts.
Her proudest accomplishment was definitely her family. She saw the special in all of us and encouraged us, often bluntly, to be the best we could be. Her advice sometimes garnered eye rolls, but we knew it came from great experience and wisdom. She was fiercely independent and stubborn, living alone in her childhood home. She enjoyed reading, watching PBS, and eating lunch and dinner at local restaurants with family and friends. Betty, Mama, Mrs. Bentley, Mrs. Perry, Grandma had it exactly the way she wanted it in the end. We think she would like to remind us to be kind to others, keep it honest, and to never stop learning about ourselves and the world.
She was preceded in death by her parents: Murace Edward Jordan and Elsie Delaney Bishop Jordan; her husband: Elliott Mitchell Perry; her daughter: Beth Ann Bentley Sisco, all of Lawrenceburg, TN; very recently, her youngest daughter: Delaney Kate Perry of Chattanooga, TN; and her grandson: Lloyd Fitzgerald Bentley of Lawrenceburg, TN.
She is survived by her daughter: Jane Lee Bentley Dorning (John Reed); and her son: Jimmy Lloyd Bentley Jr. (Connie), all of Lawrenceburg, TN; granddaughter: Dena Maria Dorning Miller (Jeremy), of Ethridge, TN; grandsons: Jacob “Jake” Irving Dorning (Beth), of Ardmore, AL, and Jonathon Sisco; six “great-grans” that she loved dearly: Peyton Elizabeth Dorning, Maddox Irving Dorning, Cooper Rylan Dorning, Molly Lloyd Bentley, Laney Claire Miller, Chance Mitchell Dorning, and Ellee Ann Miller.
As per her wishes, there will be a celebration at Wesley Chapel Cemetery sometime in the future. Memorials may be made to the Lawrence County Public Library.