You don’t need to talk to Betty Robertson long to discover she loves several things: her family, her friends, her westerns, her books, and her community. We stopped by her daughter and son-in-law’s house recently to interview the Lynchburg local in advance of her birthday. The former Moore County Public Library Director will celebrate her 90th birthday on Monday, April 5.
The glowing almost 90 year old regaled us with stories from her youth, her days at the Moore County Library, at Miss Mary Bobo’s, and what it’s been like since the pandemic grounded her at home.
From Anes Station to Lynchburg
She grew up in Anes Station — a small, railroad town between Chapel Hill and Lewisburg — where she lived with her parents, Brown and Mary Sue Turner, and her sister, Tabitha.
It was there that she met the love of her life and the man that would bring her to Lynchburg, David Lane Robertson. The two met through mutual friends over a game of Rook.
“He asked for a date the very next weekend,” Betty says. “We went to a MCHS Raider football game and the rest is history.”
Not long after they married, the couple left Lynchburg for an adventure with the U.S. Navy, which took them to Green Cove Spring, Florida then Norfolk, Virginia and eventually to Trinidad in the West Indies, where their daughter Terry Sue was born.
“We were so excited and thrilled over her,” Betty says as her eyes fill with tears then a mischievous grin crosses her face. “But she wasn’t a pretty baby. You could lay your fingers in the creases of her head. We love to say that was her big brain’s fault.”
Terry Sue lets out a big laugh.
“She loves to tell that story.”
Betty says she and David were pregnant again with her second child, Michael, before they left the West Indies just before the couple returned to Lynchburg.
Moore County Public Library Director for 20 years
Though not a native, it didn’t take Betty Robertson long to become a Moore County “local.”
“You have to live here for a few years before you get accepted,” she jokes. “But I made it.”
After the Moore County Public Library moved to its current location on the corner of Majors Boulevard and Mechanic Street, Betty became its third library director, a position she held for 20 years. When we ask about her favorite memories from that time, she struggles to narrow her time down to just one thing.
“They were all favorites,” she says. “I just loved being at the library. It’s an education in people. I saw everybody in the county every day. I loved the people, especially the children.”
And the children loved her right back.
Terry Sue says before COVID she was always amazed at the number of people who would stop she and her mother in public to reminiscence about their childhood during Betty’s library days — especially the Tootsie Rolls Betty handed out to every child who walked through the doors.
She did have her favorites though like the McGowen triplets who came in almost every Saturday.
“Their mother always told me to just let them check out two books each because she was scared the books might not get returned,” she says.
“I told her, ‘That’s alright if they don’t.’ I wanted those children to read what they wanted to read and I tell you what … I never lost a book from the triplets.”
After her retirement, Betty spent several years at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Restaurant, where she hosted meals with a side of local history. It was a natural fit for a former librarian and member of the Moore County Historical Society.
Family is everything to her
Today, she lives with her daughter Terry Sue Fanning and son-in-law Stanley Fanning off Main Street in Lynchburg and manages a full life despite being only recently released from what she calls “COVID jail.”
“When all this started, they told me I was grounded,” she laughs.
Knowing they couldn’t keep the very active 89 year old down, the family decided to form its own “bubble” of sorts. Since the pandemic started last March, her days have been filled with her six grandchildren, nine great grandchildren … and counting.
“We pray someone tells us what’s causing it,” she jokes.
She also likes to read, sew, and watch westerns on TV.
Now that she’s had her vaccine, Betty says she’s very much looking forward to getting back to some of the things she’s missed most during the last year like the Moore County Senior Citizen’s Center and cards with her girlfriends: Sara Norman, Georgia Hensley, and Judy Copeland.
“We sometimes have sleepovers and play Banagrams,” she says. “We have a big time.”
Turning 90 years young on Monday
Betty Robertson does not possess “normal” 90 year-old energy. She glows and radiates a positivity that is infectious. In fact, you could say she turning 90 years young on Monday. It’s a compliment she’s quick to receive.
“My doctor says he doesn’t have anyone to compare me with because I am in that good of health.”
Terry Sue says the family will celebrated next Sunday with a party that includes family — including Betty’s sister, Tabitha, who she’s only seen a couple of times since the pandemic started — as well as close friends.
If you’d like to send this Lynchburg legend a birthday card, you can mail it to 1607 Main Street, Lynchburg, TN 37352. •
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