Betty Lackey Sandefur

(16 Dec 1935 - 24 Oct 1997)

Newport News High School Class of 1954


  Betty was born Dec. 16, 1935 to Roderick and Frances Lackey of Newport News, VA. She had four siblings, already grown and out of the house: Patricia, Grace, Bill, and Bob. After high school, she married Paul Sandefur and had two children, Charlotte Sandefur Wellen (a teacher in Charlottesville, VA) and Ellen Sandefur Morgan (the owner of an online graphic arts business in Ocala, FL). Betty was a tremendous stay-at-home mother and home designer, working with her husband on their second job as local home contractors. There are still about 10 homes in the Hampton, Newport News, York County area that were built by this pair. Betty loved square dancing, bowling, canoeing, and horseback riding. She adored cats and had them throughout her life. She also was an amazing artist and has left behind her quite a few watercolors of her favorite nature scenes. Betty loved volunteering and instilled a love of giving to others in her children. Every summer, she would have them collect about fifty dolls that were in various stages of decay. She would spend the fall repairing them, taking care of the tiniest details, from repainting fingernails and replacing eye lashes, to designing and sewing spectacular new clothing, until the dolls glowed with her talent. Then, she would give these new dolls to Toys for Tots, so they could be given as Christmas presents to children who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to obtain a doll of this quality. Betty was also proud to be a feminist. She was a dedicated part of the women's movement of the 1970's and a card-carrying member of the National Organization of Women. She loved a good argument and was interested in all the most controversial topics of her day. In 1968, she separated from Paul Sandefur and they divorced in 1978.

When both children were in school, Betty went out into the work world, first as a receptionist/bookkeeper for the Bailey Clinic in Yorktown. Next, she shifted to the manager of the credit union for Riverside Hospital in Newport News. She was very proud of her fledgling credit union and this is when she was bitten by the credit union bug and advocated for them throughout the rest of her life. Her next move was to the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company Credit Union. There, she became a teller, and then was promoted to become the first woman loan officer. From there, she became the first woman manager of a branch office. From that position, she became the first woman member of the management staff for the main credit union, the Human Resources Officer, in charge of modernizing their personnel practices, an uphill battle that she fought with pride and determination. When she retired, in 1994, she was the much beloved manager of a branch office of the Newport News Credit Union and proudly received a quilt signed by all her employees as a parting gift. She retired at the age of 58, with long-time companion, Ed Eure, to Lady Lake, FL, where she became a very young retiree in that beautiful community. She loved her long afternoons by the pool, playing dominos and card games with friends and loved ones. She spent evenings also by the pool, reading (she was always a loyal member of any library nearby, and instilled a love of reading in her children). After three happy years of retirement, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer of the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma, which she apparently had contracted doing Paul's laundry (he was often covered with asbestos fibers when he came home from his work at NASA in the wind tunnels.) She died with family lovingly around her on October 24, 1997 at the cancer center in Tampa, FL.

   ~ Charlotte Sandefur Wellen (daughter of Betty Lackey Sandefur and Paul Sandefur, Class of '52)


(This page was added on 02/28/14.)

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