Betsy Dee Kessler

betsy kessler

March 19, 1952 ~ December 3, 2023

Born in: Philadelphia, PA
Resided in: Jackson Springs, NC

Betsy Dee Kessler, age 71, of Jackson Springs, NC, a beloved wife, sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, and friend, passed away on the morning of Sunday, December 3rd, 2023, in Durham, NC.

Betsy was born on March 19,1952, in Philadelphia, PA, to Jeanette and Joseph Kessler. She was a shining light in our lives, and her legacy of love, compassion, service and unwavering dedication to those around her will forever be etched in our hearts.

As a dedicated resident of Durham, NC, for over three decades, she wholeheartedly embraced the diverse communities that make this city so vibrant. One of Betsy’s many accomplishments was her role as the very first employee of DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center). For the past 15+ years, she contributed her passion and expertise to enriching the cultural fabric of our city. Her commitment to DPAC reflected her love for the arts and her desire to bring joy to others through the theater. Betsy loved Duke basketball and Durham Bulls baseball. She had a passion for cooking and was the Head Chef for the Durham Bulls players during the late-90’s. 

Betsy volunteered at both the Cub Scout Day Camp for Occoneechee Council, BSA and the Whippoorwill Youth Athletic Association for nearly a decade. Her commitment to nurturing young talent in the community reflected her passion for sports and her belief in the power of teamwork and dedication. Betsy also volunteered to help Carthage Rotary Club by catering their meals and founding interesting speakers for their meetings! She loved helping with fundraising and giving back to the community! Betsy’s family was her greatest source of joy.

She is survived by her loving husband Junior Ward, her only son David Bagley (Lachelle), sister Amy Bofman (Sam), step-children Kris Ward (Cris), Amanda Tickle (Justin), Sam Ward (Bethany). Betsy was a proud aunt to Jeremy Bofman (Melanie), Lindsay Guerra (Brian), and devoted grandmother to eight grandchildren.

Betsy had an extraordinary ability to touch the lives of everyone she met. She shared a special bond with her son David and grand-daughter Zora, and her love for them was a testament to her compassionate heart.

A celebration of Betsy’s life is being arranged for early 2024 and will be announced when confirmed.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Ashton’s House of Hope, P.O. Box 452, Carthage, N.C. 28327. 

The family would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Zani and the incredible Surgical ICU team at Duke University Hospital. Your tireless efforts and unwavering dedication gave Betsy a fighting chance, and for that, we will be forever grateful. Your compassion and commitment to patient care made an immeasurable difference in our lives during a challenging time.

Betsy Dee Kessler’s legacy of love, kindness, and service will continue to inspire us all. She touched the lives of countless individuals with her warm smile and caring heart. As we bid her farewell, let us remember her with love and gratitude for the extraordinary woman she was. Rest in peace, dear Betsy, you will be deeply missed and forever cherished in our hearts.

Fry & Prickett Funeral Home is assisting Betsy’s family. 

If you would like to leave a condolence or share a favorite memory of Betsy you may do so at 


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The family greatly appreciates donations made to these charities in Betsy Dee Kessler 's name.

Ashton’s House of Hope

P.O. Box 452



Memories Timeline


  1. I will miss you old friend. I’ll always remember our summers together at Camp Hiawatha in Maine. You are the reason that I ever moved to NC 44 years ago. I regret that we lost contact for a while and that you are gone so soon after just reconnecting.

  2. My thoughts are with you and your family at this time; may your memories bring you comfort.

    “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” ~~ Eskimo Proverb

  3. We worked together doing groups for so long. I’m going to miss our talks and lunches. DPAC will never be the same without you. I’m still in shock over your loss. I’ll miss you a bunch. My thoughts are with Junior and the rest of your family especially your adorable little granddaughter. God be with you ALL!

  4. Sweet Betsy- I’ll never forget you coming into the DPAC Admin Office every morning and hearing your “good morning” before even seeing you. I miss our small chats before you got your day started in the Box Office. You are such a beautiful friend and I will forever hold you in my heart. All of us at DPAC miss you so much. Til we meet again, my friend.

  5. Betsy was always willing to serve and helped in many ways with the Rotary Club in Carthage, NC. We will certainly miss her. Prayers for all of the family as you grieve your loss and celebrate who Betsy was and how she contributed to your lives. Neil & Jen Wolfe and family.

  6. Betsy was a shining light as soon as you met her. Her dedication to all she committed to was strong, helping others and always providing. I knew Betsy and Junior from our Rotary involvement in Carthage NC where she was a stalwart member and contributed to the existence and effectiveness of that club in community support. She is seriously missed and will stay in our hearts always. Peter & Doreen Little

  7. Betsy, you were a great friend and wonderful person. I loved hearing you talk about your family and your Scout connections. Thank you for all you have done for others whether it be DPAC season ticket holders or Cub Scouts or your family or the so many other lives you touched in the community. You will be missed! Steve Crouse

  8. I met Betsy when she was volunteering for MAWAT District, BSA. At that time she was responsible for the Cub Day Camp. I used to feel for the Scoutmasters going to summer camp but not after watching Betsy. Scoutmasters had a camp all set up and merit badge classes ready to go. Betsy had to get the camp area, bring water, ice, tables and set up tents, games and eating areas pretty much every day!

    Later on in the year Betsy picked up popcorn sales from me. I know she did a better job than I did. I went down to see how she was doing and there were 2 semitrailers unloading cases of popcorn Instead of my usual one.

    She was an amazing individual and an inspiration to all.

    Bill Pinkerton

  9. Betsy was truly a special person that will be greatly missed. She had a heart of gold. She lit up a room and always made us laugh and smile. We hope in time you will find peace in the memories. We were all blessed to have known her and had her be a part of our lives and family. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.

  10. It still makes me sad walking past your desk at the DPAC. You made me feel so welcomed and included from the very beginning. We had so much in common: baking, musicals, Disney, a love of the DPAC, etc that I know it was just the start of a beautiful friendship that was cut too soon. My thoughts and prayers are with you family especially your husband, son, and grandbaby. You are missed! I look forward to picking up our friendship in the great beyond.

  11. Betsy,
    You made the world our stage, through your gift of service at DPAC!!!

    Love you although we never met in person! There is no business on earth like Show Business!!!

    Rest in Heaven, Dear Sister and fellow Theatre Friend!!!

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