Elizabeth Warnke Reddick

Published 12:43 am Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Elizabeth “Betty” Warnke Reddick died on March 17, 2011, at Martin County General Hospital. She was born on Feb. 2, 1922, in Hackensack, N.J., to Harry Frederick Warnke and Mamie Ulrich.

While a chemistry student at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., she met another student, a young man who was knitting. Although she thought he was a little bit on the small side, she nevertheless found him to be interesting and fun. Betty and Haul were married on Feb. 5, 1944. and made their lives together until his death on Sept. 5, 2010.

In 1943, she graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., with a degree in chemistry and later in 1985 earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science from East Carolina University. She was a pioneering woman. She was a college graduate and worked as a professional chemist in an era when professional women were uncommon, working both at Esso Bayway, New Jersey and Monsanto in Boston.

In 1944, she came to Williamston, as a business partner with husband Haul and they were successful business people for over 40 years. They started with nothing except a determination to succeed.

While living in a Main Street apartment, they would ride their bikes to and from the property where they were establishing their farm machinery retail business. From those humble beginnings, Reddick Equipment Company became one of the leading companies in the great transition in eastern North Carolina from mules to tractors and mechanized machinery.

Later, she partnered with her husband again in the business Reddick Fumigants, Incorporated, which became one of the groundbreakers in agricultural fumigation. She loved to tell stories of being a “cylinder wrangler” which entailed calling customers and asking them to send fumigation cylinders back.

While still working at Reddick Fumigants, she again set an example for others by earning a graduate degree at the age of 65, when others were retiring.

She was always curious about the world and especially loved exploring nature. Perhaps that was why she was so fond of and understood cats so well.

She was a great reader and a collector of books, and imparted to all her children a wonderful love of reading.

She was creative and artistic and even designed a custom home for her family where she lived for over half a century. She had a distinctive style of knitting which is just now becoming popular, and her children showcased her sweaters.

She led by quiet example, but she also knew when to speak up for building a better world. She was known in the community for her active lifestyle, keen intellect and curiosity and her love of reading, horticulture, animals, and nature. With all of this, she was most of all in her heart the mother of her five children. She said many times that her greatest joy and the love of her life were her children as both children and adults; however, she admitted that their teenage years has been trying.

She was an active member of the Church of the Advent, Episcopal, where she served on the vestry and Altar Guild and sang in the choir and was a lay reader for many years. In the Williamston community, Betty served as a Girl Scout leader and a Boy Scout den and pack leader. Betty was part of the Martin Community Players from its inception, working behind the scenes as a board member and president, as well as performing on stage in many of the productions. In addition, over the years she served in various capacities with a number of community organizations such as United Way and American Heart Association. Betty established the Haul and Elizabeth Reddick Scholarship at Guilford College and was a longtime contributor to it.

Her surviving children include son Haul Reddick III and his wife, Mary, of Arizona, son Bruce Reddick and his wife, Bethylee, of Williamston and their children Richard and Clint of Raleigh, son Charles “Chuck” Reddick and his wife, Sue, of Franklinton and their children Kathryn of Wingate and Max of Franklinton, and daughter Cathryn “Kit” Reddick of Williamston. She is also survived by grandchildren Ashley Reddick Farrell and Garrett Reddick, children of her son Mark Reddick, who died on March 3, 2007. In addition, her family included her beloved sister Harriet Warnke Niles of Melrose, Fla., and her children Jay Niles, Leslie Niles Harley and Linda Niles of Florida.

Betty will be remembered at a Service of Choral Evensong at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 27, at the Church of the Advent, Episcopal. All are invited to a light supper in the church Parish House following the service.

At Betty’s request, her ashes will be committed to the Atlantic Ocean to “join the ever-moving atmosphere and the ever-moving waters and the ever-moving beach sands.”

Betty was always thinking about how to care for and educate a new generation. In that spirit, the family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be given to the Haul and Elizabeth Reddick Scholarship at Guilford College, 5800 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro, NC 27410, or to the Mark Reddick Scholarship at the Church of the Advent, P.O. Box 463, Williamston, NC 27892.

Funeral arrangements are by Biggs Funeral Home, Williamston.

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