Betty Hammers Wiley, age 90, longtime resident of Purcellville, passed away in Cary, NC, on December 22, 2021.
A self-described small town girl, Betty grew up in the tiny hamlet of Stewartstown, PA, living above her parents’ seafood store. It was a dream come true to travel to the “slightly larger” Maryville, TN for college (‘53), where she sang her heart out in every organized choir and met her husband, James O. Wiley. In 2018, Maryville College honored Betty with its Distinguished Alumni Award and Betty wowed the crowd with one of her signature meaning-of-life stories (click here for video of remarks).
Betty and Jim arrived in Purcellville in 1958, when Jim became the town dentist and Betty – literally – didn’t miss a beat, as a member of the First Loudoun Chorale Group and children’s choir director at Leesburg Presbyterian Church. She volunteered for the Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation Drives and others. She served as President, Vice President, and Community Service Chairman for the Loudoun Jr. Woman’s Club. The Wileys were one of six families that started St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville. Betty went on to become longtime choir director of St. Andrew’s.
Always the organizer, Betty was the founder and first Organizing Director of the Loudoun Valley Community Center (LVCC) after serving two years on the first Parks and Recreation Board. She initiated a senior citizen program featuring day trips, speakers, and parties, and renovated a kitchen to serve seniors and teens. She organized grants and worked with the American Hearing Society in DC to start the Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing Center in Leesburg, where she served as President of the Board of Directors for a number of years. She was named Outstanding Jr. Woman in Northern Virginia for the depth and breadth of her contributions to the community.
In later years, Betty suffered from significant hearing loss, which was a big challenge given her love of music and conversation. She worked on self-help projects for the Hard of Hearing Chapter in Loudoun and after two years, other volunteers developed a group now known as NOVA WEST in
Fairfax/Sterling. Betty also worked on the state committee for the American Disabilities Act. Although she dabbled in art throughout the years, Betty’s creativity blossomed through late-in-life painting. She became a serious artist, known for oil paintings of local pastoral scenes and colorful floral still lifes. Her in-home gallery was a must-stop on the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour (WLAST), as much for the elaborate homemade food spread as for Betty’s numerous paintings hung (by Jim) in every room. “PaintingforJoy” became her life mantra as well as her email address.
In 2017, the Town of Purcellville recognized both Betty and Jim “Doc” Wiley with the key to the town, which was a true highlight for Betty and fitting tribute from the place in which she invested her whole heart.
Betty is preceded in death by her husband Jim and is survived by her brother Bob Hammers of Red Lion, PA (wife Hazel) and by her children Karen Wiley-Eberle of Cary, NC, David Wiley (wife Camille) of Key West, FL, and Judi Crenshaw of Richmond, VA, along with grandchildren Meghan and Brennan Eberle, Mariel and Loren Wiley, and Gray, Emlyn, and Aidan Crenshaw (Granna 7 forever!).
To honor Betty’s many contributions in lieu of flowers, consider donating to the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour (http://www.wlast.org/support-us.htm). Please type a note under your donation: “Betty Wiley Fund.” A memorial service will be held at a later date.