Betty Ruth Coley Neal
Betty Ruth Coley Neal, born January 5, 1933, to Herschel Coley and Dora Marshall Coley in the Number One Community, Sumner County, Tennessee. Betty graduated from Gallatin High School, where she was elected both Homecoming Queen and Lady of the Green and Gold. She obtained a degree in English and Library Science from Longwood College. Betty attended the Gallatin First United Methodist Church, where she married Thomas Henry Neal, Jr., and worshiped until her death at the age of 85 on June 26, 2018. She served her church in the past as a secretary for the administrative board and enjoyed attending the Wallace Sunday School Class and the Women’s Circle. Betty and Tom lived in Blackstone, VA for 10 years, from 1970-80, while he served as area Manufacturing Manager overseeing several Craddock Terry shoe plants, including the one in Blackstone. A lifelong learner and voracious reader, Betty instilled a love of the written word in her children and in her students as an English teacher and a high school librarian. As a mother and grandmother, she served many years as a Girl Scout Troop leader, Sunday School teacher, and school room mother organizing and surviving numerous Girl Scout camp-outs, school trips, vacation bible schools, bake sales, and children’s sporting events. Believing that each of us is responsible for ourselves and for helping “the least of these,” she volunteered for many organizations, including her church, the Girl Scouts, Gallatin CARES, Educate a Woman, and Meals-on- Wheels. Her passion for historical preservation led her to volunteer with Carnton Mansion, Cragfont and the Bledose Lick Historical Society. She loved to search for treasures in any antique store. Betty was active politically throughout her life, serving as a Williamson County Commissioner, as Secretary and Treasurer of the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women, and on the Board of the National Republican Women. She was proud of her family, despite having raised at least two Democrats. Betty was a fierce competitor at bridge, on the golf course, and at everything she undertook, believing that if it was worth doing, then it was worth doing well. Ever tenacious, independent and strongwilled, she brooked no excuses, accepted no whining, and insisted on courtesy. In spite of the ravages of Alzheimers, she was gracious, polite, and concerned about others to the end of her well-lived life. She is survived by Tom, her husband of 64 years; daughters Lisa Ann Neal of Nashville, TN, Tracey Neal Jones (Hugh) of Blackstone, VA, and Karen Scott Neal (John Berggren) of Nashville, TN; grandchildren Coley Jones Drinkwater, Jessica Erin Jones, Thomas Ray Stuart Jones, Marshall Adam McCune, Raleigh Scott Berggren, and John Jacob Berggren; greatgrandchildren, Hazel Grace Jones, Leland Hugh Jones, and Hayden Gray Drinkwater; brother William Herschel “Bud” Coley (Mary Lynn); brother-in-law Paul Wallace Neal; sister-in-law Mary Belle Neal Ginnani; and numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews; and feline companion, “Big Cat,” who kept her company and slept on her feet for the past few years. She was predeceased by her parents and her sisters, Nancy Coley Chambers and Dora Ann Coley Brandow. In lieu of flowers, it’s suggested that memorials may be made to the Betty and Tom Neal Scholarship Fund at the Volunteer State College Foundation, 1480 Nashville Pike, Gallatin, Tennessee 37066, which assists with tuition for a graduate of Gallatin High School; or to the Gallatin First United Methodist Church Youth Fund, 149 West Main Street, Gallatin, Tennessee 37066.