Betty Jane Poindexter Marsh was born in Roanoke, Virginia, to the late William Poindexter and Helen McAfee-Poindexter-Iseley. She had one brother the late, William Poindexter, Junior. Relocating to New York City at a very early age, she attended New York Public Schools. She then returned to Roanoke, Virginia, completing elementary school and graduating from Lucy Addison High School.
After completing high school, Betty relocated to Norfolk, Virginia, where she met and married George W. Marsh, Senior. This union created four children, Gwendolyn, Marilyn, George, and Jocelyn. Betty continued her education by attending the Norfolk Division of Virginia State College (Norfolk State University), majoring in Business Administration. Additionally, she attended Old Dominion University (continuing educational calluses in Business Administration), and various workshops, seminars, and classes to enhance her occupational abilities.
Betty worked as a Medical Specialist for the City of Portsmouth for five years. Later, she transitions to the Clerk Librarian position for the United States Government, where she retired with fifteen years of service. Additionally, Betty worked with Los Angeles Choir Robes for more than twenty-five years.Â
Betty began voice lessons at the age of twelve with Professor Gorum of Roanoke, Virginia as her instructor. She sang in the High School Choir under the direction of Miss Eunice Poindexter. Female Vocalist for the Norfolk and Western Male Chorus of Roanoke, Virginia, Jazz Vocalist for a popular local jazz band and was often called "The Torch Singer." Her love for music led her to become one of the founding members of the Tidewater Chapter of the James Cleveland Gospel Music Workshop of America. The Tidewater Chapter of GMWA was founded on October 6, 1980, by a group of musicians, choir directors, and musically oriented singers and non-singers, assembled at New Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. She was the first Assistant Chapter Representative from 1980-1993.Â During this time, the Tidewater Chapter of GMWA at the 1983 National Convention received top honors and a special invitation from Rev. Dr. James Cleveland to sing at the Women of Worship Service as a special guest. Later, she became the second Chapter Representative from 1993-2008. Finally, she was the Chapter Representative Emeritus from 2008-2020. During her tenure with the Tidewater Chapter of GMWA, she received many accolades including the Betty J. Marsh Day with the City of Portsmouth.
Betty's love for The Lord was cultivated at an early age. She was a member of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia, Abyssinia Baptist Church in New York City, New York, First Baptist Campostella in Norfolk, Virginia, St. John AME Norfolk, Virginia, Zion Bethel UCC in Portsmouth, Virginia (30 years), New Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia (14 years), and Good News Family Worship Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
She was predeceased by her husband George W. Marsh, Sr., son George W. Marsh, Jr. son-in-law Wm. Earl Lawrence, and his great-granddaughter Riley Lawrence. Left to cherish her legacy is her daughters Gwendolyn (Sam) Brown, Marilyn Lawrence, and Jocelyn Marsh three grandsons Tracey (Debra) Brown, Brian Brown, Sr., William Lawrence, Jr., four granddaughters Maurita (DeAndre) Burden, Salome Lawrence, Marilyn Lawrence, Jessica Marsh-Brown, fifteen great-grandchildren (Quinton, Sr., Kaylon, MyRon, Brian, Jr., Christopher, Marcellis, McKyle, Nathaniel, Jessica, Marcia, Chalise, Mariah, Marissa, Naomi, and Mylasia), three great-great-grandsons (Quinton, Jr., Jace, and Cameron), one great-great-granddaughter (who will arrive in January 2021), Â and a host of extended family members, GMWA family members, and friends.
A public viewing will be held on August 29, 2020 at Fisher Funeral Home in Portsmouth, VA, from 10am-12pm. A private Graveside Service will be held at Roosevelt Memorial Park at 1 pm.
Published in The Virginian-Pilot on Aug. 26, 2020.