Local Historian, Talented Story Teller Bettie Cook Dies

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The "Bettie Clayton Cook cannon" was fired on the evening of June 30, 2018 at an interpretive program.

(Murfreesboro) A lady who touched the lives of so many, passed away from an extended illness at 10:59 Tuesday (7/3/2018) evening. Bettie Clayton Cook loved history, and especially local history, and shared it as a part of her longtime career with the National Parks Service and the Stones River National Battlefield.

Bettie had the gift of being a great story teller. As such, her talks at the Stones River National Battlefield touched thousands from all parts of the world.

When WGNS asked Stones River National Battlefield's Jim Lewis about Bettie, he immediately said, "She was probably the nicest person I ever knew."


He went on to say that Bettie was in charge of the "Living History Program" for almost 35-years, and over that period, Stones River regularly received correspondence from visitors who commented on how Ranger Cook made them feel at home.

"Bettie Cook" Cannon


We asked him how a cannon became named after her. Jim explained, "Whenever the battlefield receives historic equipment, we name it after a person who who has had a significant impact on the facility. A new cannon was added shortly after Bettie retire, and it ws a no-brainer that this had to be the Betie Clayton Cook cannon."

Lewis noted, "Her legacy remains strong on this hallowed ground. Just last weekend, we fired the cannon named in her honor and know that she will be looking down on us every time our 'Bettie' fires in your memory for generations to come."

Those who attended her many presentations, felt connected to what happened here 155-years ago. That was brought about with a combination of her friendly conversational delivery, warmth and sense of humor.

Her personality was found in a post on her FeceBook page the other day, To my dear friends and family, I love you all, but I have to go........ my ride's here!

She was a native of Murfreesboro, and a descendant of Rutherford County and Murfreesboro's earliest settlers. Bettie was the daughter of the late James Keeble, Sr. and Frances Gerhardt Clayton.

Not only did she have a love for history, Bettie Cook also held close to friends, animals of all kinds and was a lifelong member of Murfreesboro First Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. Cook was a 1962 graduate of Central High School, and attended MTSU. She retired in 2003 as a Park Ranger from the Stones River National Battlefield after thirty two years of service. In addition to being an integral part of the many educational programs at the battlefield, she was a member of Murfreesboro Charity Circle and the Daughters of the American Revolution.


Visitation with the family will be on Saturday, July 14 from 2:00-4:00 in the parlor of First Presbyterian Church (corner of West College and North Spring Streets). That will be followed by a memorial service in the church sanctuary at 4:00 that afternoon. A reception at the Clayton Family Home, 525 East College Street, will take place immediately after the memorial service.

The family wishes to thank her devoted caregivers including Libby and Rosie. Memorials may be made in memory of Mrs. Cook to the Stones River National Battlefield and First Presbyterian Church. Arrangements are under the direction of Woodfin Memorial Chapel and an online guestbook is available at www.woodfinchapel.com

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Bettie Blayton Cook, died, First Presbyterian, Murfreesboro, Stones River National Battleground, WGNS
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