Betty Ratchford Robinson James

May 5, 2024

CHARLOTTE – Mrs. Betty Ratchford Robinson James, 95, died on Sunday, May 5, 2024, at The Stewart Health Center of The Cypress of Charlotte. 

Betty was born on April 21, 1929, Gastonia, NC, to the late Ralph G. Ratchford and Virginia Baker Ratchford.  Betty grew up in Olney Presbyterian Church in Gastonia and was active in youth group, where she met the handsome Glenn Byers Robinson as a teenager.  When Betty was 15, Glenn brought her a gardenia to youth group.  That day, Betty proclaimed to her friends: “I am going to marry him some day.”  Betty graduated from Frank Ashley High School in Gastonia and Peace College in Raleigh. A short time later in June 1950, Betty and Glenn were married at Olney Presbyterian Church where they first met.  The newlyweds moved to Clinton, South Carolina for Glenn to finish his degree at Presbyterian College.  While in Clinton, Betty and Glenn welcomed their first daughter, Sherry.  Following seminary, they served their first church, Tirzah Presbyterian, in Waxhaw, where they welcomed their second daughter, Glenna. The family soon moved to Charlotte to serve Hickory Grove Presbyterian Church.

Betty was an active minister’s wife, often leading circles and assuring perfect flower arrangements.  She was coveted for her intricate open house parties for the congregation at Christmas, for which she would prepare for months.  Betty was so revered as a hostess that her parties garnered the attention of The Charlotte Observer with a front-page feature. Professionally, Betty was a licensed Realtor for Bissel-Hayes in Charlotte for many years.  She was also an active and faithful member of Myers Park Presbyterian Church, where she taught Sunday school, led small group circles, served on many committees, and acted as an Elder.

Our beloved “Mother” bestowed upon us her many gifts.  She was an excellent cook.  From a young age, Betty and Sherry would be in the kitchen together preparing the meals around which so many family memories continue to be centered.  Betty also loved gardening.  Even while living at The Cypress, Betty grew cucumbers, which she used to make homemade pickles with her great-grandchildren when they visited each summer.  She was an impeccable seamstress. She made countless dresses for her young daughters, including their wedding gowns, as well as her grandchildren’s Baptismal gowns, which her three great-grandchildren also wore.  This talent for creativity was passed along to Glenna who also enjoys sewing.  Betty was known for her exquisite taste in fashion and was always impeccably dressed in her lipstick and pearls.  For 70 years, not a Friday went by that Betty was not present at her beauty shop.  Betty’s sense of style landed her a feature making hats on the legendary Betty Feezor Show – the first show in the world to be video-recorded in color.  Those who knew her personally know that Betty was committed to her natural health and wellness, priding herself of never requiring prescription medication prior to her death.  She enjoyed teaching others her secrets as well.

Betty and Glenn were happily married for 54 years before Glenn’s death in 2005.  Betty was lucky to find love again in a long-time family friend, Rev. Robert (Bob) James.  Betty and Bob enjoyed nine years of marriage before his death.  She was deeply proud of her family – her daughters and son-in-law; her grandchildren and their spouses; and her great-grandchildren.

Betty is survived by her daughters, Sherry Harrelson and Glenna (John) Bowen; her grandchildren, Byers (Ann) Bowen, Matthew Rowell, Lauren (Jim) Sracic, and Elizabeth Rowell; and great-grandchildren, Grant and Hannah Bowen, and Grace Sracic, all of whom knew and loved her as “Mimi.”  She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.  Betty was preceded in death by her husband, Rev. Glenn Byers Robinson; her husband, Rev. Robert (Bob) James; her siblings, Marvin (Pauline) Ratchford, Erskine (Karen - surviving) Ratchford, Vivian (George) Plyler, and Max (Molly) Ratchford.

Finally, her daughters extend their deepest gratitude to the following individuals for their steadfast care of and devotion to their mother during her final year: her nurses, Alyson McGill and Saty Jagdao, her many CNAs, her favorite dining room staff, and everyone at The Stewart Health Center who loved and cared for her. 

A memorial service to celebrate Betty’s life will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Myers Park Presbyterian Church.  The family will receive friends following the service at the Church.  The service will be livestreamed at: for those unable to attend in person.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be offered in memory of Betty to Myers Park Presbyterian Church, 2501 Oxford Place, Charlotte, NC, 28207 (; Charlotte Rescue Mission, P.O. Box 33000, Charlotte, NC, 28233 (, or the charity of one's choice.

May she rest in peace, and may her memory be a blessing to all who knew her.  “Well done thy good and faithful servant. Well done.”

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences may be shared at

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  • Amy Shelton

    Glenna, Sherry, and families,
    My deepest condolences for all of you. I know your mother/grandmother will truly be missed. I know you all have so many wonderful memories of and with her. They will live on in your hearts forever. Please know that all of you are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Much love,
    Amy Shelton and Family

  • Beverly Darlington

    What a special lady! Well done, faithful servant, indeed! May dearest Betty rest in peace. ❤️

  • Sophie Marshall

    Betty brought joy to hundreds of people. I will always remember her as a very knowledgeable bible scholar, but mostly as a friend!