Betty Jean Becker

Published 6:00 am Friday, April 21, 2023

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Betty Jean Spearman Becker (Johnson) died on April 18, 2023, in Tarboro, NC. 

She was born in Raleigh, NC on March 9, 1931, the daughter of Dr. Gaston Frank and Mae (Carpenter) Johnson of Winston Salem, NC.  She graduated from RJ Reynolds High School in 1949.  She attended Wake Forest College and married David. F. Herring, also of Winston Salem.  They moved to Chapel Hill and then to Madison, Wisconsin where their son David W. Herring was born. 

From there they moved to Columbus, Ohio where their second son Rev. Stephen A. Herring was born.  The family then moved to the San Diego area where Dr. Herring worked for General Atomics.  They divorced in 1965 and Dr. Herring died in 1989.   Jean moved back to Chapel Hill to finish her education.  She obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

In 1969 she met and married professor Walter Spearman.  Jean and Walter were fixtures in the social scene in Chapel Hill until Walter died in 1987.

She was a frequent actress in many productions of the Carolina Playmakers, in both musical theater and straight drama.  After Walter’s death, she married Philip G. Becker.  Phil died in 2021.  Jean and Phil were active members and supporters of the Durham Savoyards.   Jean and Phil lived in Washington, NC from 2002 through 2012 when they moved to Tarboro, NC.

She was predeceased by her sister, Ann (Johnson) Wilkie of Little Rock, Arkansas.   She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law David Wells Herring and Dr. Patricia Frazier of Minneapolis.  She is also survived by her son and daughter-in-law Rev. Stephen and Catherine Rose Herring of Tarboro, NC.  Her grandchildren are Julia Marisa Herring of Minneapolis and Peter A. Herring of Tarboro, NC.  She was also loved by her step-grandchildren George Errol Stoddard of Wilmington and Christine Rose Stoddard of New York City.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later by the family. 

Online condolences may be offered to the family by visiting

Paul Funeral Home & Crematory of Washington is honored to serve the Becker family.