Betsey Purnell Scruggs

Betsey Purnell Scruggs

Betsey Purnell Scruggs, age 92, died on January 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Betsey was born August 6, 1921 to Frank Purnell and Hazel Wentriss Shepherd Purnell, near her parents' farm in Danville, Illinois. Her father taught at the University of Illinois in Champaign and her mother was an accomplished pianist. After high school, Betsey attended McMurray College, where she graduated with a degree in drama, in 1943. She worked for Stewart Harvey in Chicago as an executive assistant. Betsey married George Columbus Scruggs, Jr., a veteran of the war in the Pacific, in 1948. The Scruggs lived in San Francisco, California, eventually moving to Springfield, where George worked as an FBI agent. After retirement, George served as a City Council member and Mayor of Springfield. These were rewarding years as Betsey enjoyed being Springfield's "First Lady," representing their city at home and abroad.

Betsey lived a long and happy life. Her happiest years were when she and George were first married and beginning a family. Her sons, Chris and Tim, have fond memories of her supporting them through PTA, Vacation Bible Schools at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Scouting, Debate, and through numerous activities and escapades. Betsey enjoyed her sisters in PEO and friends at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield, where she sang in the choir and served as an Elder. Her leadership in Presbyterian Women, the Builder's Class, Presbytery, and as Moderator of the Synod of Middle America were important in her service to God. She enthusiastically supported the arts and acted in productions at the Springfield Little Theater. For many years she was the 'matriarch' of the Purnell-Shepherd family reunions held bi-annually near Fithian, Illinois. Hayrides past the family farm and cemetery were a high point of every reunion.

Betsey enjoyed good health almost to the end of her life, living alone with her dachshund after George predeceased her in 2001. Also predeceasing her were her sister, Marilyn Gambosi and brother Lyle Purnell. She is survived by her children Rev. Dr. G. Christopher Scruggs and wife Kathy, of Memphis, TN and Timothy Thomas Scruggs, and wife Joanne, of Austin, TX. Her grandchildren include Hilary Scruggs, Trammell Scruggs, Clara Scruggs, Melanie Scruggs, Sonia Taylor and husband, Scott, Carlos Castillo and wife, Christy, and six great-grandchildren Skyler, Tanner, Tyson, and Lyric Taylor and Cage and Jacob Castillo.

Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary of Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1551 E. Portland Avenue in Springfield on Saturday February 8. A reception and private family interment will follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to Westminster Presbyterian Church of Springfield, or the charity of ones choice. Online condolences may be left at

Funeral Home

Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home
1947 E. Seminole Springfield, MO 65804

Published in the News-Leader on Feb. 2, 2014