Betsey Creekmore: A Trefoil Society Luncheon Honoree
When a girl becomes a Girl Scout, she receives a pin in the shape of a Trefoil, symbolizing her acceptance of the ethical leadership values she will learn. Members of the Trefoil Society commit to support Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians through generous annual financial support, so girls can discover their leadership potential and take action in their communities. Each year, three Trefoil Society Luncheons are held in our Council to honor women who exemplify what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker and Leader). For the central-area Trefoil Society Luncheon taking place on Sept. 10, Betsey Creekmore is the honoree.
Betsey is a native Knoxvillian. She graduated from Salem Academy, earned the A.B. Degree from Vassar College, and the master’s degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. She taught at Springside School (Philadelphia), The Garrison Forest School (Baltimore), and Old Dominion University (Norfolk) before joining the administration of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1972. She was the first female member of the central administration at UT. She retired from UTK in 2012 and was named Associate Vice Chancellor Emerita.
Her civic activities include serving on the Boards of Trustees of Old Dominion University and Tusculum College, serving as President of the Knoxville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, President of the Dogwood Arts Festival, President of Blount Mansion, President of the UT Faculty Club, and President of the UT Retirees’ Council. She served on the Knoxville Greenways Commission, The Knox County Two Centuries Steering Committee, Knoxville/Knox County Homecoming ’86 Steering Committee, Hamilton National Bank Advisory Board, Greater Knoxville American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, Historic Tennessee Theatre Board, Festival on the River Board, Helen Ross McNabb Center Board, and Knoxville College President’s Roundtable.
She is the author of Tennessee/A Celebration of 200 Years of The University, Through the Arch: The Story of the College of Home Economics/Human Ecology, and Your World in Miniature: A Guide to Making Small Scale Scenes and Rooms. She also wrote the on-line encyclopedia of The University of Tennessee, Volopedia, and the Special Collections and Archives Department of the UT Libraries is named for her.
Betsey was an avid Girl Scout Brownie, then briefly a Junior, and eventually became a Mariner Girl Scout. The Girl Scout Mariner Program is designed for older Girl Scouts who are looking for an opportunity to engage deeply in water-focused activities. As Mariners, girls develop skills in swimming, safety and rescue, boating, and weather and navigation. Betsey has fond memories from her Mariner days. Her troop had their own boats (a Lightning Class sailboat and a Sailfish boat), which they kept docked at the Concord Yacht Club in Knoxville. She says the Mariners, “sailed pretty much every weekend. We crewed for some of the races down at the yacht club; that was great fun.”
But to Betsey, Girl Scouts wasn’t just about having fun. She says, “I think for the all other things that Girl Scouts do, for all the skills it teaches, all the opportunities it gives to learn about things, the most important thing they do is to train people to be leaders.” Betsey points out that when she was growing up, there were far less opportunities for women to be leaders. She credits Girl Scouts with helping her become the leader that she is today. Through Girl Scouting, Betsey says, “you learn to trust other people, learn to work together, learn all these skills, stand on your own two feet, and work through your own problems. It all comes out to be training to be a leader.” She also points out that at UT she was blessed with the opportunity to work with extraordinary leaders, both women and men, who had not only excelled themselves, but who were willing to help others succeed. Betsey says, “That’s half the battle. If you are succeeding, you need to reach out and help others succeed.”
It’s this mindset of always helping others that inspires Betsey. She says, “I honestly believe that one makes the world a better place by making one small spot in the world a better place.” She feels it’s important to offer opportunities to others whenever possible. “I can’t save the world,” she says, “but I can help this person or do this small task. In total it helps make the world a better place.”
In her downtime, Betsey enjoys writing poetry, collecting antique books, being outside in the mountains, and being on the water. Her favorite Girl Scout Cookie? Thin Mints.
The central-area Trefoil Society Luncheon takes place on Thursday, Sept. 10, via the online platform Zoom from 11:30am-12:15pm. Register online today! If you are interested in hosting a virtual table at this event, please contact us at Philanthropy@girlscoutcsa.org or 1-800-474-1912 x2007. If you are unable to participate in this event, but would like to give a gift in honor of an honoree, please donate online or send a check to our office: Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, 1567 Downtown West Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37919.