Memphis Funeral Home


Mary "Beth" Elizabeth Farris

July 16, 1931January 16, 2021

Mary Elizabeth "Beth" Farris, née Elliott, died peacefully on January 16, 2021 after 89 years and 6 months, following a brief period of declining health after a fall.

She is survived by her daughter, Dana Valentine of Walhalla, South Carolina; son, Greg (Karen) Farris of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and granddaughter, Crystal Carter of Columbia, Missouri. She was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Bessie Elliott as well as her beloved sisters, Barbara Brown (Fallbrook, California) and Patricia Drinnon (Germantown, Tennessee). ‘The Three Sisters’ were always a delight to be around, and our families find comfort that the sisters are together again.

Beth graduated from Whitehaven High School in 1948 and from the University of Memphis with her Bachelor of Science (School of Education) in 1957. She also obtained her Master of Education (1970) and her Doctor of Education (1986). Beth worked for Memphis City School, where she was a Teacher and Library Media Specialist at Cummings Elementary School over 30 years. Dr. Farris exhibited professional leadership at the national, state, and local levels with numerous presentations and committee memberships. She served on the Board of Directors of the Society of School Librarians International. She was the recipient of seven Teacher Initiative Grants from the Memphis Rotary Foundation as well as a Mini-Grant Award for Creative Teaching from the Tennessee State Department of Education. She received The Rotary Award for Teacher Excellence in 1987, recognizing her exceptional performance in the classroom and invaluable service to the Memphis community.

After retirement in 1998, Beth continued to teach, offering classes to older adults on how to use computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones through Germantown Parks & Recreation and the Memphis Public Library. She received The Satterfield Award in 2008 which is Memphis Public Library’s highest volunteer award. Beth served on the Library Commission as well as the Historic Committee of the City of Germantown and also volunteered at the Germantown Performing Arts Center.

Beth was extremely curious and she was a committed life-long learner. For example, she participated in a 3D printing class in 2019. She was an accomplished pianist and photographer. Beth truly enjoyed travel and she visited every state and province in the US and Canada, respectively, as well as several other countries. In her later life, she always wore white and looked radiant in it.

A memorial gathering is planned for Saturday, July 17 from 2:00 until 4:00 PM, at Memphis Funeral Home - Poplar Chapel, 5599 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the National Civil Rights Museum at The Lorraine Motel, where she was a member An online memorial exists at


  • Dana Valentine, Daughter
  • Greg (Karen) Farris, Son
  • Crystal Carter, Granddaughter
  • Fred and Bessie Elliott, Parents (deceased)
  • Barbara Brown and Patricia Drinnon, Beloved sisters (deceased)


  • Memorial Gathering

    Saturday, July 17, 2021


Mary "Beth" Elizabeth Farris

have a memory or condolence to add?

Linda Lipham

January 31, 2021

Beth was the best teacher I ever had for technology issues on the iphone and ipad. I so enjoyed seeing her and attending the Germantown Park and Rec classes that she taught for years. I took her out to lunch one day after our class and we could have talked for hours on our shared loved of traveling.
She will be sorely missed.

Judy German

January 28, 2021

Beth and I were good friends for 50 years.. Throughout all that time, she was kind, thoughtful, caring, generous, friendly, and professional. The students and staff all loved and admired her. She was the epitome of excellence in all that she did. But, she never was boastful or arrogant; always humble and quiet. Beth was an extraordinary person who will be missed by all who loved her!❤️❤️


January 27, 2021

Beth was a loving, caring lady that I only knew for a short time. I am glad to count her as a friend that was much loved. I am blessed to have been considered her friend.
May your happy memories of her bring you comfort.