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Betty Pressley Leone, 86, died Sunday August 6, 2023. She was born in Charlotte August 22, 1936 to Charlotte to Officer Ernest Pressley and Elizabeth Bass Pressley. After graduating from Central High School and attending a year of college at Phiffer, Betty boarded a bus (much to her parents’ chagrin) bound for New York City with the dream of becoming an actress. She lived in Greenwich Village, and one of her first jobs was at Radio City Music Hall. She participated in a handful of theatre troops but found herself drawn to service in the community. The two loves melded into performing in nursing homes where she would ultimately meet her husband. New friendships exposed Betty to Catholicism; a religion that became so much a home to her that she pursued a vocation as a nun. While she determined this was not her calling, the experience allowed her the opportunity to teach English in St. Croix. When she returned to NYC, she met and married Richard Leone, a professional dancer and former child actor. The two shared their love of the arts and a strong commitment to service in the community. Both were devout Catholics with social justice activism a central role in their life together.
A husband and three children later, Betty returned to her hometown of Charlotte to be close to her family. In Charlotte Betty and Richard and their children opened their hearts and home to more than 40 foster babies over a 13-year period. Betty’s compassion for babies awaiting permanent families could nearly be matched by her love of animals. She was never afraid to bring home a dog she found in a parking lot or on a busy road. This love of animals could easily be seen in the collection of books stacked around her room.
Friends and family would describe Betty as having never met a stranger. She was the lady in the grocery store who would chat up a cashier or tell jokes to a bagboy. Betty never failed to wear a “smart mouth” (her words) t-shirt for any occasion. She took great pride in brightening the day of anyone on her path.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband Richard who passed 3 months before their 60th wedding anniversary. Her two sons Stephen and Joseph preceded her in death. Betty is survived by her daughter Therese Leone Bartholomew and son-in-law Douglas Bartholomew, her Daughter-in-Law Cecilia Flores Leone, and eight grandchildren: Jessica Leone Dixon, Tamara Flores Bradley, Trea Payne, Matthew Leone, Victoria Bartholomew, Jacob Bartholomew, Caleb Bartholomew, and Gabrielle Bartholomew; as well as seven great grandsons Braedon, Maddex, Bowan, Laeton, Declan, Oliver, River, and great granddaughters Haven and twins - Stevie and Maeva.
A Visitation and Rosary will start at 10:00 am at Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church on 4207 Shamrock Drive in Charlotte on Friday August 11, 2023 immediately followed by words of remembrance with Betty’s daughter Therese. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:00 a.m. with Father Scarcella celebrant. Interment will follow immediately thereafter at Sharon Memorial Park.