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Betty Bane: Halifax mourns loss of a ‘great lady’

Sarah Elizabeth “Betty” Umphlette Bane died Tuesday in Halifax. She was a longtime columnist for The Gazette-Virginian, former member of Halifax Town Council, active community, church and civic leader and the widow of former Sheriff Woody Bane Sr.

Bane penned the “What’s Cooking with Betty Bane” column that ran in the Gazette and several other Southside Virginia newspapers for many years.

“Betty was a great lady with a true love for the Town of Halifax and the community, second only to the true love she had for her family,” said Halifax Mayor Dick Moore Tuesday. “She was a true ambassador for the Town of Halifax, and we are grateful for all she did. She will be sadly missed.”

A native of Whaleyville, Bane was a graduate of Madison College, now James Madison University, and held a master’s degree in elementary education. After graduation she was an international exchange student as a participant in the IFYE (International Four-H Youth Exchange) program.

She came to Halifax to start her career as an Extension agent, organizing Home Demonstration Clubs throughout the county. Bane later taught third grade at Halifax Elementary School.

As a long time member of Center United Church of Christ, Bane organized and published “Center Church Cuisine,” a cookbook that featured the best of rural Virginia cuisine and favorite recipes of the then president, governors and senators with a letter from each.

Bane and her husband, Woody, served as youth directors for Center Church for over 20 years.

Bane served as president of the Halifax Woman’s Club and president of the Banister River Garden Club. She was a member of the War Memorial Committee for Halifax County, a founding member of the Herb Club of Halifax, and she participated on just about every board, fundraiser and church committee.

“Betty Bane was a force of nature; she loved Halifax,” said Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy. “She possessed a rare quality of being utterly dedicated to improving the community by holding on to a vision of refined beauty while tactfully persisting until the deed was done.”

When the county and town began collaborating on the planning for the Halifax Downtown Revitalization Project with the Halifax Village Business Association and other stakeholders in 2002-2003, Bane eagerly participated as a member of the Banister River Garden Club and the Halifax Woman’s Club, Espy said.

“She rallied those organizations’ volunteers to plant seasonal flowers in pots downtown, to raise funds and donations for the renovation of the Masonic Lodge in the Mountain Road Historic District, to help pay for the downtown landscaping and to purchase streetscape furniture dedicated on May 11, 2010,” Espy said.

“Before Thanksgiving, Betty worked with the Halifax Village Business Association and the woman’s club to help usher in the holiday spirit by announcing the various activities through a press release, and she especially loved the white lights spiraling in the crepe myrtle trees downtown,” Espy continued.

“She made a point for the town to keep them burning the entire year so that a festive mood is maintained for everyone driving through the historic county seat,” the town manager said.

“I join Mayor Moore and the Halifax Town Council in sending our deepest sympathy to the Bane family during this time,” Espy said. “Betty will be greatly missed, but I hope the light she shown during her life’s work and the legacy she leaves for her family and our community will serve to inspire us all.”

Bane is survived by one daughter, Sarah Bane Williams and husband Terrell of Richmond; one son, Woody Kent Bane Jr. and wife Kathy of Halifax; five grandchildren, Sarah Elizabeth Bane Williams and Dora Terrell “Dolly” Williams, both of Washington, D.C., Woody Kent Bane III, who attends James Madison University, Katherine Elizabeth Stuart “Kate” Bane and Mary Margaret “Meg” Bane, both of Halifax.

Also surviving are two brothers, Floyd Riddick Umphlette Jr. and Lewis Carroll Umphlette and wife Bettye Sue, all of Suffolk; and one sister-in-law, Mrs. J. W. (Thelma) Bane of Vernon Hill.

A funeral service for Betty Bane will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Mountain Road in Halifax. Graveside services will follow at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church Cemetery.

The family will greet friends at Halifax Country Club from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.