Bessie “Bess” Miller Leary

January 24, 1940 - August 2, 2023

01/24/1940 - 08/02/2023

Past Services

Thursday August 10, 2023
11:00 am - 11:20 am
Ahoskie Cemetery
First Street
Ahoskie, NC 27910
Funeral Service
Thursday August 10, 2023
11:30 am
First Baptist Church of Ahoskie
312 Main Street West
Ahoskie, NC 27910
Thursday August 10, 2023
12:00 pm
In the sanctuary following the Celebration of Life Service at First Baptist Church of Ahoskie

Bessie (Bess) Miller Leary, age 83 of Ahoskie, NC died peacefully on August 2, 2023.  Mrs. Leary was born January 24, 1940, in Breckinridge County (Lodiburg) Kentucky. Born the second of four daughters to the late Paul and Roxie Beard Miller.

She graduated valedictorian from Irvington High School then entered Georgetown College in Kentucky, the heart of Blue Grass. At Georgetown, she received the degree of Bachelor of Arts Magna Cum Laude with a Major in English and a Minor in Speech. There she met her future husband William E. Leary and they were married June 9, 1961. She then began her 32-year career in the Hertford County Public School System teaching English for grades 6-12 in Ahoskie, NC. She was the advisor to the high school newspaper, The Pow Wow, for 12 years and a chosen Teacher of the Year in Hertford County and Region I (1981-1982).

After her retirement in 2000, She would spend years as a volunteer tutor in the Adult Basic Education program at Roanoke-Chowan Community College. Mrs. Leary was an active member of First Baptist Church of Ahoskie NC. She served on the board of Deacons, taught Sunday school class at the Church as well as the nursing home. She held leadership positions in WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union), and participated in many other volunteer projects such as The Ahoskie Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels. She was a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization promoting professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. She was also a member of the Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization in which she held several leadership positions as a part of Chapter 328 of Ahoskie, NC.

In addition to her parents, Bess was preceded in death by her beloved husband, William E Leary Sr. and sister, Charlene Arvin. Left to cherish her memory, are her children Deborah Cartwright and husband Ed of Greenville NC, William Leary Jr and wife Rebecca of Murfreesboro NC, Catherine Newbern and husband Travis of Greenville NC, and Stephen Leary and wife Cara of Raleigh NC.

She was adored as “Grandmommy” by her grandchildren Laura and Meredith Cartwright, Christine (husband Jason) Peduto, and William Leary III (wife Megan), Coleton and Tanner Newbern, and Elizabeth, Raegan, and Maddox Leary, along with great grandson Franklin Peduto. She is survived by her sisters Mildred Newton and Beula Royse, and many loving nieces and nephews. The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Bess’s Heaven-sent caregivers, (Margaret, Imogene, Sabrina, Pat, Diane, Linda, and Betty) for their love, support, and devoted care.

A graveside service will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday, August 10th at the Ahoskie Cemetery.  A Celebration of Life will follow at 11:30 am at First Baptist Church of Ahoskie, with Rev. Anita Thompson officiating. The family will receive friends in the sanctuary following the Celebration of Life.

Memorial contributions in memory of Bess may be made directly to First Baptist Church of Ahoskie, PO Box 649 Ahoskie, NC 27910 or online by clicking here.

Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service of Ahoskie will be handling the arrangements for the Leary family and online condolences can be directed to the family or you may join the livestream by visiting


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Brenda Knight
6 months ago

Mrs. Leary was my English teacher & I’m so glad to have been her student. I always thought of her as such an elegant lady, very prim & proper & of course, she spoke perfect English – a very good role model! My condolences to the family.

Tricia Newsome Horne
6 months ago

Mrs. Leary was a sweet and intelligent lady. She taught us how to debate, how to make speeches along with all the regular studies. She was faithful to visit those in the nursing home and always had a smile!!

Wendy overton-ervin
6 months ago

Mrs. Leary was my high school English teacher; she was such a sweet lady. She and Mr. Leary taught with my father, Dutch Overton. Mrs. Leary often visited my mother when she lived at home and later when she was a resident of Ahoskie House. When I was home and saw her on a visit we often talked about education because I am a teacher. She always made me feel special. I recall she attended one of my mother’s birthday parties at Ahoskie House. Mrs. Leary was truly devoted to a life of service, both as a teacher and after her retirement. She was an angel here on Earth. I extend my sympathy to the family she leaves behind.

Billie Gibson
6 months ago

She was a sweet woman!

Elaine Wynn
6 months ago

She was such a wonderful lady. She was a great English teacher. Even though it has been almost 50 years since I was in her class, she still recognized me and we talked. I am proud to have known her and to have been taught by her. She will be missed by all that knew her. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. May our Father be with you all.

Robert Hurdle
6 months ago

Mrs. Leary was one of my favorite teachers in high school. She was a lovely lady whose life was exemplary and an inspiration. I will never forget her.
God bless all of the family.

Tommy Godwin
6 months ago

What a wonderful, and lovely lady. I was so fortunate to have Mrs. Leary as my english teacher in the eighth grade. Years later after graduation, she always remembered you, and your name. We were so fortunate to have her as a teacher. You were a true blessing not only to your students, but to the whole community of Ahoskie. God bless you,and my deepest sympathy to your family>

Kay Byrd
6 months ago

Bess has been a part of my life since she was my English teacher. She then ended up being my Sunday School teacher and a dear friend. Love and hugs to all the family.

Corelette Harrell Smith
6 months ago

Mrs. Leary was outstanding English Teacher. It was a joy to be in her classroom. She was loved by so many students. My prayers are with the Leary family.

Elizabeth Merritt
6 months ago

Mrs. Leary was a beautiful lady inside and out. She was my English teacher and enjoyed her classes so much! Thoughts and prayers to her family and cherish those memories forever!