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Miss Betty – The Queen of Queens

Mar 22, 2024 By Queens University Communications

In August 1962, a young Betty Davis arrived at Queens, not as a student, but as an employee. Though close in age to some, Miss Betty, as everyone fondly calls her, became a pillar of support, a maternal figure that students could rely on through thick and thin.

An employee for nearly 62 years, Miss Betty is still going strong – with no signs of slowing down. On most days, you can find her sitting in Trexler Student Center, next to a cash register much taller than she.

Through the years, she’s held many positions at Queens, from housekeeper and health center assistant to clerical worker, food service employee, and even cover model (Queens Magazine – Winter 2011)! In recognition of her outstanding contributions to Queens, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on May 7, 2011.

“While I’ve never had children of my own, I’ve been a mother to thousands during my time at Queens. These students are my kids, my babies, and just hearing them say ‘Good morning, Miss Betty!’ brings a smile to my face,” she said. “They love me just like I love them!”

To say she is “kind of a big deal” on campus is an understatement. “They named the market after me, Miss Betty’s Marketplace. And I have a bench dedicated to me out there on the campus,” she says, pointing out the window. “They even gave me my own day, Miss Betty Day, August 25!”

Miss Betty has made lifelong friends at Queens, including Charlotte mayor and Queens alumna, Vi Lyles. “When I came to Queens in 1969, there weren’t many women of color,” said Lyles. “When I wanted to quit and go home – she was the one who said, ‘Baby, you can do this.’”

When asked about her biggest accomplishment at Queens, she lets out a chuckle. “I was the one who got the boys here,” she said. “Back in the day, boys from other schools would come to visit the girls, so I went to President Wireman’s office and asked if we could have our own boys here. He told me he’d think about it, and soon enough, he agreed.”

Miss Betty also reminisced about her time with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, during their stay at Queens in 1987. The president and first lady were in Charlotte to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. “He was a nice man, and I would sometimes accompany him and his wife on walks around the neighborhood,” she said.

For the past eight years, Jeff Brown has been Miss Betty’s boss. “She is unparalleled,” said Brown, director of dining services. “She is one of the best employees I’ve ever had and I don’t think she’s missed a day since I’ve been here! She wants to be at Queens as much as possible, and we all appreciate the positivity she brings to the team.”

Greg Morris, dining services manager, has worked with Miss Betty since 1978. “We all look out for each other, and take care of her whenever she needs help,” he says. He can attest to Miss Betty’s legacy on and off campus. “I’ve seen alumni come back with their own children and when they see Miss Betty is still here, they start crying.”

Darryl White, assistant dean of Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement, recalls the first time he saw Miss Betty as a prospective student nearly 35 years ago. “I remember being on campus for a basketball recruiting event and Miss Betty kept coming up to our table to make sure we had enough to eat,” said White.

“She’s always been a genuine person who has a lot of love in her heart for others,” White adds. “We can learn a lot from her by how she treats everyone with love and respect. She doesn’t judge people based on their identity, but instead recognizes them as human beings who need to be appreciated for who they are.”

“I’ve seen it all,” says Miss Betty, “But the truth is I don’t see no difference when it comes to color – I love everyone all the same.”

“Miss Betty is young at heart, and teaches us the importance of not taking ourselves too seriously,” said White. “When I see her dancing or chasing me around the dining hall, I know that she is just living life to the fullest. She’s a real role model for me, and I can never imagine Queens without her.”

When asked about retiring, Miss Betty sighs, “I don’t know when my last day will be, but I tell you what, every morning when I wake up, I thank the Lord that I get to live another day with my family at Queens.”