Women’s History Trail names seventh ‘Macon Matriarch’

Betty Warstler, along with her husband, Herald, have given decades of service to Macon County. Donated photo Betty Warstler, along with her husband, Herald, have given decades of service to Macon County. Donated photo

With the opening of the Women’s History Trailhead at Women’s History Park and the unveiling and dedication of “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” sculpture to the Town of Franklin, the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County/WHT continues their celebration of Women’s History Month by recognizing this year’s WHT Macon Matriarch, Betty Warstler. 

On March 27, members of the Women’s History Trail (WHT) leadership and Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC) met at Warstler’s home to present her with their annual award.

“Certificate of Appreciation in recognition for your lifelong dedication to the people of Macon County through community service,” it read. “With a heart for missions, a voice for the most vulnerable people in our society, and your many years of willingness to give selflessly to help others, you are the perfect choice for this year’s WHT Macon Matriarch Award.” 

Surrounded by family and friends, Warstler shared stories of her time in Franklin, particularly mission-minded projects which were underway in her craft room. At almost 95 years old, Betty continues to work tirelessly to create items to benefit Franklin First United Methodist Church missions, especially their annual Bazaar.

A notebook on the table logging records of her work tells her story: 4,771 hot mats, 91 grocery bags, 140 blessing banks, hundreds of children’s outfits for children in Honduras and many more fabric, wood and stained-glass items.  

Warstler and her husband, Harold, started stained-glass and woodworking groups at FUMC to teach members how make items that could be sold to benefit church mission projects. More than three decades ago, she shared her ideas about raising money for missions to the Laura Jones UMW Circle of which she was a member. Together, their group worked to organize the first church-wide yard sale which later morphed into its annual bazaar. This flagship fundraiser held every July is sponsored now by the entire congregation at Franklin’s FUMC and has grown leaps and bounds, raising more than $700,000 to provide funds for local, regional, national and global mission work.  

Related Items

The couple moved to Franklin in 1965 when Harold was appointed the assistant director of Macon Program for Progress. Harold started a self-housing program that was the forerunner of Habitat for Humanity in Macon County. In addition, Wasrstler supported her husband in the establishment of the county-wide Head Start Program, and she worked with ladies in the community as part of the Homemaker Training Program, also started under Harold’s tenure as Director of MPP.

They also established Maco Crafts in 1969, a non-profit craft co-op aimed to provide a venue for local crafters to earn a sustainable living. Maco Crafts Co-op allowed members to sell their wares, and the membership was under a juried invitation to maintain that high craft standards be reflected.

Warstler’s work helping those in need has come in many shapes using her varied talents throughout the years. In a 2012 letter to the editor, she and her husband wrote that their service to Macon County is really just a reflection of the love they see.

“One of the many things we appreciate about living in Macon County is that most everyone seems to have a high degree of caring for each other,” they wrote. “You can see and feel it when you enter a local business and find a donation jar on the counter for someone who has had an unfortunate experience.”  

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.