Elizabeth Bentley WATSON

February 20, 1957February 5, 2019

Elizabeth Bentley Watson, known as “Betty,” died on February 5, 2019. Betty was born in Atlanta on February 20, 1957, and grew up in the historic “Wash Collier” home in Sherwood Forest, which her parents Jimmy and Gwen Bentley purchased in 1958. In her youth, Betty traveled all around the state of Georgia with her father Jimmy Bentley, who campaigned for statewide office and was twice elected Comptroller General. Betty attended the Westminster Schools and in 1975 she graduated in the top of her high school class and won the AJC Cup. Betty attended Yale University for college, where she was a member of Pierson College and graduated with a B.A. in American Studies in 1979, with honors, among the first generation of women to graduate from Yale College. Betty received her J.D. in 1983 from the University of Georgia in Athens, where she met her husband, Wade. After graduating from law school, Betty served as a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge Hon. John W. Dunsmore, Jr. in Augusta, Ga., and then joined the family law group at Hurt, Richardson, Garner, Todd & Cadenhead in Atlanta, where she worked for five years under the mentorship of Paul Cadenhead. In 1989, pursuing her lifelong passion for service of those in need, Betty began working for the Georgia Mental Health Institute, a state-operated psychiatric hospital on Briarcliff Road in Atlanta. She continued serving as an attorney for the State of Georgia in the department now known as the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities for twenty-eight years until her retirement in 2017 and regularly attended national meetings of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Betty and Wade were married on May 17, 1986 at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta by Wade’s father, the Rev. W. Hamp Watson, Jr. She gave birth to her son Hamp in 1990 and her son Jordan in 1993. After living for many years in Lake Claire and Morningside, in 2007 Betty and Wade purchased the Wash Collier house in which she grew up. Betty lived a life of passion, curiosity, friendship, love, and faith. A woman of words, she would recite the poetry of Chaucer, Coleridge, and Yeats to her sons. In 2014, Betty compiled a book of her grandmother’s poetry and distributed it to all of her grandmother’s descendants. Betty wrote and read aloud an original poem in honor of her son Hamp’s engagement party in 2018. Betty loved to travel and learn about new places. As a girl she visited the Mayan pyramids of Mexico, where she watched the 1969 moon landing, and as a young woman she visited Brazil, Europe, and Bermuda and lived for a year in San Francisco. Many of her happiest hours were spent building “drip” sandcastles and beachcombing for seashells on her beloved Georgia coast. As a mother, Betty traveled with her family across the United States and imparted her deep love of conservation and the National Parks system on her sons. Betty and Wade celebrated a joyful thirtieth anniversary with a vacation to England and Scotland, where they visited ancestral homelands and held hands at Loch Lomond. Betty was an active and beloved member of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the Emory University campus in Atlanta, which she began attending while dating Wade in the early 1980’s. Betty sang in the choir for many years and taught Sunday School when her boys were growing up. Betty was called by her faith to cherish and preserve the beauty of creation. As an active member of the Environmental Committee at Glenn, Betty spearheaded award-winning recycling and composting programs, and she was thrilled to drive an all-electric car. Betty’s giving and relentlessly positive nature, her inexhaustible energy, and her devotion to others made her a dear friend to many people. In addition to her church community Betty was an active member of Wednesday Morning Study Club, her book club, and her Supper Club. Every Christmas, Betty preserved the family tradition of making her father’s Abercrombie barbecue sauce to distribute to all of her friends and family, and she never failed to leave some for the mail carrier and garbage and recycling collectors. Betty showed the utmost love and devotion to her family. She spent her final months busily and joyfully preparing for the wedding of her son Hamp. Honoring Betty’s devotion to the wedding and their upcoming marriage, Hamp and Preetha were married at Betty’s bedside in her final hours by Betty’s son Jordan in the presence of Wade, Preetha’s parents Dr. Indrani and Dr. Kailas Nandi, and gathered friends and family. Betty is preceded in death by her father James L. “Jimmy” Bentley, Jr. She is survived by her husband of thirty-two years, Wade H. Watson, III, her son Hampton M. Watson and her daughter-in-law Preetha Nandi of Atlanta, her son Jordan B. Watson of Charleston, S.C., her mother Gwendolyn M. Bentley of Atlanta, her brother James L. “Jim” Bentley, III, sister-in-law Cameron C. Bentley, niece Elizabeth “Abby” Bentley and nephew and godson James L. “Jay” Bentley, IV of Augusta, her brother Dr. Samuel J. Bentley, Sr., sister-in-law Fiona K. Bentley, and nephew S. Jackson “Jack” Bentley, Jr. of Baton Rouge, La., nephew Rory O.J. Bentley of Los Angeles, niece Taylor C. Bentley of London, uncle Hon. Chris Foster of Decatur, mother-in-law Day W. Watson of Atlanta, sister and brother-in-law Susan and Rev. Timothy Bagwell of Macon, niece Rev. Emily Bagwell of Atlanta, nephew John Bagwell and niece Greta D. Bagwell and grand-nephew and niece Timothy and Margaret Bagwell of Richmond, Va., sisters-in-law Ann Watson and Susan Sherman and niece Sarah Sherman of Greenville, N.C., and many beloved cousins, friends, neighbors, and members of her church. A visitation with Betty’s family will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at H.M. Patterson & Son–Spring Hill at 1020 Spring St. NW in Atlanta, and a memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, February 8, 2019 at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church in Atlanta. Donations in Betty’s honor may be sent by check payable to Stanford University to: Development Services, Stanford University, P.O. Box 20466, Stanford, CA 94309; please enclose a letter stating: “this donation is a gift to be used for the Stanford Moyamoya Program in honor of Betty Bentley Watson.”


  • Visitation Thursday, February 7, 2019
  • Memorial Service Friday, February 8, 2019

Elizabeth Bentley WATSON

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Elizabeth Garlington

February 12, 2019

Dear Bentley & Wade Family,

I send my love and heartfelt sympathy to the Bentley and Wade families after the recent passing of Betty. I have many fond memories of Betty in the early 1980's when I lived above her at White Columns Apartments in Athens, GA. Betty was 1st year UGA Law and I was in art school. I remember Betty's love of books, love of quiet, love of reading, and dedication to her journey at UGA Law. I was Betty's invited guest at her Section X Torts class and I will add that the experience terrified me and I made the immediate decision not to ever pursue the possibility of a legal career when I exited the class. Betty was always so sweet to me and inspired me to "get to work" with my own studies when I returned to UGA after a really, really bad car accident. I had a real time of getting back into the groove of college life and Betty saying "I have to study" inspired me to do the same. Betty amused me with her soft sense of humor and I remember her "swooning" over Wade...Lawyers in love! I have such sweet memories of Betty and send my love to all. Betsy Garlington

Ursula Dozier

February 9, 2019

What a sweet,kind and beautiful Lady we have lost
What a life well lived
Betty will be missed by all who knew and loved her

Emma Wilson

February 8, 2019

I'll feel forever fortunate to have known my "Auntie" Betty. She exuded warmth, kindness and love to all who encountered her and lived by her Faith in thought, word and deed. I will cherish memories of sharing the holidays with her & her family, baking & decorating Christmas cookies as kids and later painting pottery and spending time together as we grew older. I'll always aspire to the lifelong friendship she and my mother shared and am so grateful to have had her & the Watsons as members of our chosen family.

Sending my deepest love and condolences to Betty's family and dear friends. May her memory live on in all of us and inspire us to live with the generosity and goodness that she did each day.

Ranita Keener

February 7, 2019

Jim, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I met Betty once, when she came to do a workshop here at ECRH, and I found her to be a lovely person.

Kevin Sims

February 7, 2019

Classmates at Westminster, Betty proved to possess superior intellect and even greater humanity, thoroughly humble and kind.

Cindy Runyon

February 6, 2019

I join the host of Betty's friends in profound sadness over her death. She will be missed in many ways, but her legacy will continue protecting the environment and uplifting the lives of disadvantaged people for whom she cared and to whom she gave so much.

Keisha Blackwell

February 6, 2019

Betty was always sweet, patient, kind, and complimentary to me at work. One day, out of the blue, she noticed my hair style and told me it looked nice. I remember appreciating her attention and compliment. I am blessed to have come in contact with her sweet spirit. I pray for peace and comfort for the family, the kind that only God can grant. My condolences.


Keisha Blackwell

Betty Jenkins

February 6, 2019

Jim, thinking of you and your family. We will be praying for you.

Michael Scharff

February 6, 2019

I had the pleasure of working with Betty for several years. I found her to be a lovely and caring person, and she was an advocate for all those under her care. I pray for peace for her family.