Betty Whitmel Durfey Lyon

May 7, 2013 

Betty Whitmel Durfey Lyon, 88, died at FirstHealth Hospice House Sunday morning, May 5, 2013.

Betty was born Oct. 2, 1924 as the youngest of the five daughters of Cary and Margeret Durfey of Raleigh. She was raised in Raleigh, in several neighborhoods off of Glenwood Avenue and near the Five Points intersection.

Betty Whit graduated from Needham Broughton High School in 1942 and from Peace College in 1944. She married Vernon Frederic (Bud) Lyon on Dec. 26, 1946 at the First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh.

Bud and Betty Whit began their marriage living in Denver, Colo., and their journey together also included living in Southern California, suburban New York in Tarrytown, N.Y., and finally, to Alexandria, VA.

In 1960 they and their two young sons, Fred and Larry, moved to the Mt. Vernon area south of Alexandria. It was there, in the Waynewood neighborhood, where Betty Whit truly found her home and her calling as a friend, a mother, a hostess, a conversationalist, and a surrogate mother and grandmother to legions of people in and around that neighborhood.

Betty Whit was a people magnet. People loved her, and she loved people. She was never happier than when a crowd of people were in her house, and she would “hold court,” serving up food, drink, joy and laughter. She found complete joy in the act of simple hospitality.

She also began a career in banking in the early 1970’s and worked for more than 20 years for Crestar bank in Alexandria.

Her husband Bud died in 1977. She never remarried, living independently the rest of her life.

In October, 2011, she sold her Waynewood home of more than 50 years and moved next door to her son Larry and daughter-in-law Martha in Seven Lakes West.

Betty Whit was a lifelong Presbyterian. She was baptized in First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, attended Presbyterian churches wherever she lived, and was a longtime member of Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church in Alexandria. Since 2011, she had attended West End Presbyterian Church, where her son Larry is the pastor. She volunteered thousands of hours of time in the churches she attended and also at the Mt. Vernon Hospital in Alexandria.

Betty Whit is survived by son Fred Lyon and daughter-in-law Lynn of New Orleans, LA, and son Larry and daughter-in-law Martha of Seven Lakes West. She also is survived by seven grandchildren, including Paul Lyon of Gastonia, Ben Lyon of Chicago, Ill., Kaylor Kaemba of West End, Alex Lyon of Austin, TX, Prudence Scott of Raleigh, Hannah Lyon of Philadelphia, PA, and Cameron Lyon of New Orleans, LA. She also is survived by eight young great-grandchildren, who were her latest joys in her joyful journey of 88 years.

She is also survived by two sisters, Margaret Timberlake of Alexandria, VA, and Dorothy (Dot) Hoover of Raleigh, as well as numerous nieces and nephews many of whom counted her as their “favorite aunt.”

A memorial service is planned for Friday, May 17, at 4 p.m. in the West End Presbyterian Church sanctuary. A graveside service is scheduled for Saturday, May 18, at 11:00 a.m. in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.

Memorial contributions may be made to the West End Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 13, West End, NC 27376, or to Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church, Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria, VA, 22308.

Online condolences may be made at

Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines is serving the family.

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