PHOTO: FiftyForward Board of Directors President Beth Woodward, left, poses for a photo with Betsy Crossley, right, as Crossley accepts the Crown Affair award for her service to the community on Thursday, April 25 at the FiftyForward Knowles Center in Nashville, Tennessee / Photo by Rachael Long
By RACHAEL LONG
At its 30th Annual Crown Affair fundraiser on Thursday night, the FiftyForward Knowles Center in Nashville honored Brentwood City Commissioner Betsy Crossley for her service to others in the local and state community.
Her husband George was there to help present the honor, and he had some nice anecdotes to share, too.
“Betsy’s love for seniors became obvious to me when we were dating,” George told the crowd. “She introduced me to one of her most important personal mentors, Nana, her grandmother. From Nana, she got her drive, her determination, her moral center and her southern charm.”
George said his wife’s leadership was learned from Betsy’s father, a 96-year old survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He also chaired the Board of Education in Athens, Georgia during desegregation, George said.
“[He] makes me look lazy,” George said with a laugh. “He’s amazing.”
Betsy is a former school teacher, who in her first year of teaching, won the Teacher of the Year award in “an incredibly competitive school.”
“Betsy’s receiving this award because of a lifelong commitment to the service of others and especially service to seniors,” George said, calling her a staple of the FiftyForward Martin Center in Brentwood.
As a Planning Commissioner, a City Commissioner and two terms as mayor, George said Betsy has left “quite a legacy.”
“Her vision, I think, in my totally unbiased opinion, has been the driving force behind the balanced development we have in Brentwood that created the tax base and the quality of life that we have.”
Betsy has served as a Brentwood City Commissioner since she was first elected in 2007. Now finishing her third term as a commissioner, the twice mayor has also served on the Tree Board, the Library Board, the Planning Commission and the Historic Commission.
Outside her city leadership, Betsy has been an active member of the Brentwood United Methodist Church, the Brentwood Noon Rotary Club, Brentwood Rotary Club’s Charitable Foundation Board, the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Brentwood, and the Lenox Park HOA and Architectural Review Boards.
She’s a founding board member for the Education Foundation for Williamson County, on the executive board for Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary and winner of the Williamson County Impact Award for three consecutive years.
She’s also been a long-time volunteer for the FiftyForward Martin Center, which seeks to “support, champion and enhance the life for those 50 and older.”
Before receiving the award, Betsy spoke to her desire to support work of the Martin Center.
“I have always been fascinated by the wisdom of seniors,” Betsy said. “From learning bird calls with my great-grandmother at age 8 to seeing the beautiful work done by our Martin Center’s Card Crusaders today, seasoned citizens still want to matter in this world.”
FiftyForward was established in 1956 and impacts more than 20,000 individuals through its programs, services and resources, according to a press release.
The annual Crown Affair event is FiftyForward’s signature fundraising event and benefits its seven lifelong learning centers in Davidson and Williamson counties, as well as agency programs and services including FiftyForward Care Management, FiftyForward Meals on Wheels and FiftyForward Adult Day Services.
Others awarded for volunteerism and service Thursday night include former Cable president Vicki Hearn Horne and News Channel 5’s Lelan Statom, as well as Cigna Health-Spring for its corporate philanthropy.
“People can and should volunteer, no matter what their age,” Betsy said. “We receive so much more than we give in the long run when we serve others.”