Our adorable, Betty Brown Tipps Crabtree, aged 94, died peacefully, on 29 November 2022 at her home in Columbia, Tennessee. Betty was preceded in death by her husband William F. “Bill” Crabtree.
Betty was the adopted daughter of Elizabeth “Dizzy” Tipps McBride, and Orin F. “Fats” McBride of Tullahoma, Tennessee. She was a half-sister to Vera Majors Webster of Rogersville, Tennessee, and half-sister to Ruth Tipps Morano of Manchester, Tennessee, and had a half-brother William Clark Tipps of Tullahoma, Tennessee (all deceased). She is survived by nephews, Jerry and Jim Tipps of Tullahoma, John Webster of Springfield, Virginia, and niece, Gayle Tipps Sessions of Devine, Texas.
Betty was born June 30, 1928, in Tullahoma to Lillie Brown Majors Tipps and William Martin “Daddy” Tipps. Following the untimely death of her birth mother when she was 6 months old, Betty was adopted by her father’s cousin, Elizabeth McBride, and her husband. Betty grew up in Tullahoma, graduated from Tullahoma High School in 1946, and from Middle Tennessee State College in 1950 where she majored in music with an emphasis in piano and organ.
During her college years, a budding romance developed with a fellow student, Bill Crabtree, a chemistry student, and musician. A year after graduation, Betty and Bill were married on June 28, 1951. Bill went on to establish a 35-year career as a chemist with Union Carbide while Betty taught school for 15 years in Tullahoma and Columbia. Bill’s career took them to Cleveland, Ohio; Kyoto, Japan; Johannesburg, South Africa; Geneva, Switzerland, and finally Columbia. Bill retired in 1985. In 1999 Bill died following complications with cancer.
In Columbia, Betty was active in her church serving as organist and choir director for the Garden Street Presbyterian Church and then as a deacon at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
A petite 5’ tall, Betty was always recognized for her bubbly personality and as a class beauty having been a majorette in high school and college and named football Home Coming Queen in high school, and was Miss Middle Tennessee State University in 1950. Popular with all she knew and met, Betty was best known throughout her adult life as a wonderful friend and hostess whose circle of friends grew ever wider. Among her many passions was gardening where she maintained beautiful landscaping, flower beds, and shrubs. She was a member of the Columbia Garden Club for many years and the Columbia Country Club. Betty was a master bridge player and in later life enjoyed mahjong. Her husband, Bill an avid sportsman, enjoyed hunting, boating, photography, and woodworking, and together, they enjoyed golfing and traveling. For many years following his death, Betty continued to host dinner parties for members of his woodworking club, The Duck River Wood Turners.
At a high school class reunion at age 89 she and her old friend, Foy Dark, began a close friendship having dinners and long phone conversations like a couple of teenagers. Mr. Dark passed away in 2020.
Commenting on her life, Betty said, “While I lost my mother in infancy, I was adopted by the most wonderful parents a girl could have and could not have been loved more than by Dizzy and Fats. I was always their baby girl and was always surrounded by their love and support. Tullahoma was an idyllic little town in which to grow up where we all knew each other and loved each other. As I look back, I can only remember bright, carefree, sun-lit days. Then in college, I met this cute boy, Bill Crabtree, who stole my heart. As a married couple, we were inseparable. He was truly the love of my life and my best friend. Now, as I near the close of this life, I can only be eternally grateful for the good fortune that I have enjoyed. I have been truly blessed.”
Her youthful demeanor, bright expression, and zest for life belied her age. Always cheerful, always happy, she will be missed by all who knew her.
Betty's family will be visiting with friends and family on Monday, December 5, 2022, starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Westminister Presbyterian Church in Columbia. Service will begin at 11:00 a.m. Graveside service will be held at 2:00 p.m. at Maplewood Cemetery in Tullahoma.