Betty Knight, beloved secretary—and occasional miracle worker—at Virginia L. Murray Elementary in Ivy is retiring after 29 years. You’ll still be able to see her there all the time, though, but now as a portrait in the school’s front lobby, opposite the one of Virginia Murray.
Knight did not know what was going to happen at the “farewell fiesta” the school organized to honor her April 19.
School Board chairman Brain Wheeler praised her for being “a great mother to the Virginia Murray kids.” PTO president Carmen Garcia expressed fond appreciation. Principal Andy Grinder recalled that when Knight announced her intention, “the reaction was ‘Oh, NO! What’s going to happen to us?’ And I had the same reaction,” he admitted. “She said, ‘Everything’s going to be all right.’ She’s always putting other people above herself. We’ll never find a replacement for her.” That brought a round of applause and cheering from the crowd of 200 that had turned out to show their love.
Then, to Knight’s surprise, the portrait was presented to her to unveil. The painting was done by artist Stephen Andres. Knight also received a week’s vacation at a North Carolina beach and four trees, autumn blaze maples, were planted along the school’s front drive in her honor.
Parents came up to hug and thank her. Her husband Wayne, when Betty’s virtues were being sung, added that she had donated a kidney to him in 2001.
“It’s time,” was Knight’s explanation for her decision. “This is my family, but it’s fine.” As for the painting, she said, “I can’t imagine being there [in the entry way]. I feel honored.” She accepted the likeness as fair and accurate.
Next she said she wants to do some carpentry and build things like houses. Her father was a carpenter and she enjoys woodworking. Gardening is also on the list.
She recalled times when children would come to her house over summer vacation and ask her to pull their baby teeth, rather than let their own parents do it. “I tell parents their kids are mine for the day and I’ll give them back at the end.”
No wonder Murray won national recognition as a Blue Ribbon School.