Cover photo for Betty Jean Obi's Obituary
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Betty Jean Obi

August 21, 1938 — June 22, 2023

Fort Mill, SC

Betty Jean Obi

   Ms. Betty Jean Obi, 84, died Thursday, June 22, 2023, surrounded by family at Piedmont Medical Center in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Born on August 21, 1938, in Decatur, Georgia, Betty was a daughter of the late Clyde Edward Wheat Jr. (1915-1968) and Dorothy Hudson Wheat Tally (1918-1978), and older sister of the late Catherine Wheat Todd (1940-2011).

   In her early years, Betty lived an adventurous life full of exceptional and historical events. At the age of 3, while her dad was stationed in Hawaii, she survived the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and remembered the terror and chaos of that day throughout her life. She lived around the world as they moved with her father’s naval career to places that included Europe, Saipan, Hawaii, California, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida. In 1953, while they were stationed in England, she was present at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She attended boarding school in Woking where her memories and education had a tremendous impact on her life thereafter. Betty was a member of the first graduating class at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida in 1956, where she proudly received the highest grade in chemistry and was remembered for being outgoing, sweet, demure, and altogether lovely. She attended nursing school at St. Vincent’s hospital and became a Registered Nurse in 1959. She was married to Dr. Lewis J. Obi for 27 years. Together they have 6 children, 12 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.

   Betty was well known at home for her exceptional hospitality skills, culinary excellence, and sewing talents. She made many clothes for her children through the years, including matching holiday dresses, first communion dresses, and her daughter Bettie’s wedding dress. She was famous for her annual Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas fruitcakes that were loved by many locally and abroad. After working as a nurse and raising 6 children, Betty reinvented herself in the 1980’s as a church organist, music director, and music teacher at Christ the King Catholic Church in Jacksonville.

   Her work there included playing for weekly services, weddings, funerals, and directing the church choir. Betty obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Organ Performance from the University of North Florida in 1992, fulfilling her lifetime ambition to become a musician. She later returned to nursing at Shands Jacksonville where she worked for over 20 years. Her specialties were medical/surgical and oncology floor nursing. She obtained her oncology certification and received numerous awards for her excellent work at the hospital. Betty not only provided her expertise as a nurse but also a great deal of comfort and support to patients and their families during cancer treatment. She took graduate courses towards her Master of Science degree in Nursing at St. Joseph’s College of Maine. In her spare time, Betty enjoyed shopping, cooking, traveling, crafting, and spending time with family.

   Betty was a caring mother and grandmother and forged long lasting relationships with each family member. After retirement in 2012, Betty moved to Burlington, North Carolina to be near two of her daughters and several of her grandchildren.

   Betty is survived by 5 children: Janet Obi-Keller (Kieron, Gilles), Lisa McCumber (Mike), Lori Willis (Shawn), Lewis Obi Jr. (Deanna), and Bettie Obi-Johnson (Sam); 12 grandchildren: Harrison Obi-Keller, Zachary Cenate, Jennifer Rivard (Tim), Meridith McCumber, Michael McCumber II, Ashley Flanders (Jordan), Chelsie Burns (Joey), Kaitlyn Gordon (Eli), Austin Willis (Michaela), Finley Obi, Samuel Johnson II, and Jessica Johnson; 6 great-grandchildren: Madelyn Flanders, Abigail Flanders, Anora Burns, Asher Burns, Titus Gordon, and Emmalene Willis. She was preceded in death by her daughter Brenda Obi Cenate (1961-2001).

   A Celebration of Life service will be held at 2:00 pm, Friday July 7, 2023, at Lowe Funeral Home (2205 S. Church St., Burlington, NC 27215), with Pastor Garry Gates officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to the American Cancer Society.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Betty Jean Obi, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, July 7, 2023

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Lowe Funeral Home & Crematory

2205 S Church St, Burlington, NC 27215

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