Elizabeth “Betty” Gurley


Elizabeth “Betty” Gurley passed on Tuesday, May 2 at her Montrose home following a brief illness. She will be greatly missed by her husband of 41 years, Toby Gurley, as well as her close-knit family, friends, and members of the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Fairhope.

Betty was born to Robert and Ruby Varner on Oct. 18, 1943. Raised in southern Alabama, she graduated from Theodore High School in 1961 and went on to the University of Southern Mississippi where she excelled as a Dixie Darling. In the years that followed, she worked for the County of Mobile, and later at WPMI TV as the assistant to the general manager for more than 20 years, working behind the scenes and in front of the camera, hosting a local events program. In retirement, Betty enjoyed traveling to Maine, cruising to various ports, and sharing her infectious smile and laugh with all she would meet.

She will be remembered fondly for countless afternoons cooking with her husband at their Montrose home while entertaining family, friends, and neighbors alike. Supporting her church and its community outreach programs brought her great joy, as did the exercise classes, hosting book club meetings as the Tutu girl, and the 4 o’clock Ladies Group. Betty would giddily scoop up shrimp and fish during Jubilees, she played the piano by ear, and never tired of the sun setting over Mobile Bay.

Betty is survived by her loving husband Toby Gurley, along with siblings Bobby Varner (Shirley), Mary Duff (Brian), Sue Wagner, and sister-in-law Ann Varner. Loving children Penelope Gurley Prett (Paul), Mark Gurley (Cathy), grandchildren Matthew, Michael, John-Mark, and Rebecca Gurley, India Fletcher (Jacob), and great-grandchildren Wesley and Elaric along with numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and a loving extended family.

She is preceded in death by her son Paul Oberkirch and siblings Milton Varner and JoAnn Brown Grant.

A celebration of Betty’s life will be held on Saturday, May 27 at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Fairhope, at 10 a.m., with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, please make a charitable donation to the Gurley Family Scholarship at Auburn University Foundation: amd0073@auburn.edu