Barbara Brisby Petty, 90, a retired and beloved high school Physical Education and Health teacher, died peacefully at her home in Washington, DC, on February 22, 2021, after a long illness.
She was the first born child of Sallie Ben James Brisby Hamilton and Clarence Francis Brisby. Barbara was born June 18, 1930 in New York City, NY, and spent a good part of her growing up in Brunswick County VA, and South Boston, VA. She attended high school at Saint Paul’s (Lawrenceville, VA) and Huntington HS (Newport News, VA). Barbara received her Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Recreation in 1951 and her Master’s Degree in Physical Education in 1953, both from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) (Durham, NC).
Barbara met her future husband Bennie Petty in South Boston, VA. They married in 1954, and soon after, traveled as an Army officer and wife to West Germany and Fort Benning, GA before returning to South Boston, VA. After Ben retired on medical disability, the family moved from South Boston, VA to Washington, DC in 1964.
While in Virginia, Barbara taught health and physical education at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, and Mary McLeod Bethune High School and Washington Coleman Elementary School in South Boston. She thoroughly enjoyed teaching health and physical education and coaching girls’ sports teams at Western HS (1964-76), now known as Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Woodrow Wilson HS (1976-82), and H.D. Woodson HS (1982-90), retiring in 1990, finalizing her “official” teaching career in Washington, DC.
Affectionately known in her early years as “Babs” and later as “Granby,” Barbara Petty was lively, engaging, smart, and unforgettable. When she spoke with you, she made you feel important and valued. She loved to travel, host family reunions (she was the family historian), attend class reunions, play cards, participate in book clubs including as a charter member of the Juanita Thornton Shepherd Park Library book club, support her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority Xi Omega Chapter as a Golden Soror, talk politics, or talk about anything! She loved young people, loved to tease and was full of fun!
Family who preceded her in death include her husband, Capt. Bennie Petty; son, Bennett Brisby Petty; and siblings, James Clarence Brisby, Jonnice Hamilton, Joseph Hamilton, and former sister-in-law and close confidante Bertha Hamilton.
She is survived by her two daughters, Patricia Petty Morse (Rev. Sterling Morse) of Washington, DC, Jocelyn Petty Hood (Gerald Hood) of Charlotte, NC; and one son, Jeffrey Hamilton Petty of South Boston, VA.; grandchildren, Sterling Jr., Jonai, Malcolm, and Kamau Morse, Cody Isaacson, Ian, Nigel, and Justin Hood; great-grandchildren, Jalen and Jamir Webster-Morse; her sister, Judy Brisby (San Francisco) and brother, Stewart Brisby (NYC). She also leaves her sister-in-law Aldine Petty, her godson Dal Wade, devoted lifelong friend Esther Clay Lucas, and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends to cherish her memory, along with her special students from Western HS, Class of 1967.
In accordance with her wishes, Barbara’s earthly remains were donated to a medical school (Howard University Medical School), in hopes that she could help others for educational purposes and medical research. Her cremated remains and any ashes will be buried with her beloved husband, Ben, in the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.
Due to the pandemic, Memorial Services celebrating Barbara’s life, will be held at a later date. A live-stream celebration of life, is tentatively planned around her birthday in June 2021. Per her wishes, an in-person gathering (luncheon/”party”!) of friends and family to celebrate her life is hoped to take place next year (2022) when things are safer for all.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorial contributions (tax-deductible) to be made to the NCCU Foundation, Inc. or to the Pearl and Ivy Educational Foundation (AKA Inc. Xi Omega Chapter), in Barbara’s name.
North Carolina Central University Foundation, Inc.
Please make checks payable and mail to: NCCU Foundation, Inc., 1801 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC, 27707; please write on the memo line "In Memory of Barbara Petty – Physical Education Department". For online giving, please visit https://www.nccu.edu/institutional-advancement/giving-online. Add “In Memory of Barbara Petty – Physical Education Department” in the comment section.
Pearl and Ivy Educational Foundation – Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., Xi Omega Chapter
Please make checks payable and mail to: Pearl and Ivy Educational Foundation – AKA, Inc., Xi Omega Chapter, 4411 14th St., N.W., Washington, DC, 20009; please write on the memo line "In Memory of Barbara Petty".
Friends and family are encouraged to view and share remembrances and condolences on Barbara’s Tribute Wall.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Barbara B. Petty, please visit our floral store.