Bessie M. Leary

Published 10:44 am Friday, August 4, 2023

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AHOSKIE – Bessie (Bess) Miller Leary, age 83 of Ahoskie, NC died peacefully on August 2, 2023. Mrs. Leary was born January 24, 1940 in Breckinridge County (Lodiburg) Kentucky. Born the second of four daughters to the late Paul and Roxie Beard Miller.

She graduated valedictorian from Irvington High School, then entered Georgetown College in Kentucky, the heart of Blue Grass. At Georgetown, she received the degree of Bachelor of Arts Magna Cum Laude with a Major in English and a Minor in Speech. There she met her future husband William E. Leary and they were married June 9, 1961. She then began her 32-year career in the Hertford County Public School System teaching English for grades 6-12 in Ahoskie, NC. She was the advisor to the high school newspaper, The Pow Wow, for 12 years and a chosen Teacher of the Year in Hertford County and Region I (1981-1982).

After her retirement in 2000, She would spend years as a volunteer tutor in the Adult Basic Education program at Roanoke-Chowan Community College. Mrs. Leary was an active member of First Baptist Church of Ahoskie NC. She served on the board of Deacons, taught Sunday school class at the Church as well as the nursing home. She held leadership positions in WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union), and participated in many other volunteer projects such as The Ahoskie Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels. She was a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization promoting professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. She was also a member of the Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization in which she held several leadership positions as a part of Chapter 328 of Ahoskie, NC.

In addition to her parents, Bess was preceded in death by her beloved husband, William E Leary Sr. and sister, Charlene Arvin. Left to cherish her memory, are her children, Deborah Cartwright and husband Ed of Greenville NC, William Leary Jr and wife Rebecca of Murfreesboro NC, Catherine Newbern and husband Travis of Greenville NC, and Stephen Leary and wife Cara of Raleigh NC.

She was adored as “Grandmommy” by her grandchildren, Laura and Meredith Cartwright, Christine (husband Jason) Peduto, and William Leary III (wife Megan), Coleton and Tanner Newbern, and Elizabeth, Raegan, and Maddox Leary; along with great grandson, Franklin Peduto. She is survived by her sisters, Mildred Newton and Beula Royse, and many loving nieces and nephews. The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Bess’s Heaven-sent caregivers, (Margaret, Imogene, Sabrina, Pat, Diane, Linda, and Betty) for their love, support, and devoted care.

A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, August 10th at the Ahoskie Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will follow at 11:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Ahoskie, with Rev. Anita Thompson officiating. The family will receive friends in the sanctuary following the Celebration of Life. Memorial contributions in memory of Bess may be made directly to First Baptist Church of Ahoskie, PO Box 649 Ahoskie, NC 27910 or online by visiting type Bessie Leary.

Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service of Ahoskie will be handling the arrangements for the Leary family and online condolences can be directed to the family, or join the livestream by visiting