Betsy Robb

1995 NAN Lifetime Achievement Awardee

Betsy was born in Durham, North Carolina and educated at The Baldwin School and Sweet Briar College. Her obituary read: “Blessed with a keen, inquisitive intelligence and a lively imagination, she contributed greatly to the landscape around her, serving as a Durham City Councilwoman from 1989 to 1993 and as a trustee on the boards of Durham Regional Hospital and the Carolina Theatre.” 

For a number of years she owned Betsy’s Needleworks in Durham where she operated the shop, did custom designing and taught classes for those interested in learning more about needlepoint and related arts. In the mid 1970s she decided to hone her teaching skills and earn credentials for teaching needlework. She drove to Richmond, Virginia to attend the Assembly for Embroiderers sponsored by the National Textile Resource and Research Center of the Valentine Museum. Betsy completed her Level II Certification in needlepoint in 1976 and became a counselor in the program.  She continued to serve as Assistant Director of Teacher Certification, Director of Teacher Certification and, finally, as its third Director of Education. 

Betsy was a respected teacher and mentor. She was a pioneer in laying silk threads and designed many pieces to teach her techniques of working with silk. When the Valentine elected to discontinue its support for the Center, Betsy shared her business acumen in guiding creation of the National Academy of Needlearts as an successor entity that would continue the Center’s mission. 

In memory of Betsy, the NAN Board of Directors established The Betsy Robb Award, which is given each year at The Exemplary. It is given to the entry that best exemplifies excellence in silk and/or metal work.