Betsy was born on August 1, 1961. Her sister, Caroline Caulkins Bentley, also lives here on Lookout Mountain. Betsy and her precious family have been a fixture on Lookout Mountain for many years. As a member of the LMS class of 1973, Betsy was loved by her classmates. She then became an esteemed student at GPS, where she was captain of the varsity swim team. Betsy was also on the varsity volleyball team and was a member of the Spanish Club. She attended Brenau College where she served as an officer for Tri Delt. Betsy has a beautiful daughter, Elizabeth, and precious grandson, Jesse.
Betsy has spent her life pouring into others, especially young people. She was everyone’s favorite kindergarten teacher at Brainerd Baptist before she began teaching at LMS, where she was a beloved third grade teacher. Known for pink and green, Lilly Pulitzer, a happy classroom, and a sweet voice, Mrs. Bookout has always loved her students, and it was mutual. Students remember her kindness, her M&M jar, and reading good books together.
When she was not in the classroom, Betsy was still teaching swim lessons at the Lookout Mountain Club and McCallie and by helping coach the Fairyland Flash. Both teaching and coaching swimmers were especially fun for Betsy because she was able to do them alongside her sister, Caroline. Billy Caulkins, their father, was also passionate about swimming, and the city meet was named for him in recent years.
Additionally, Betsy taught Sunday school at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church where her late mother, Nancy Caulkins, taught before her. Most families on Lookout Mountain have been touched by this sweet soul who unselfishly loves others and humbly gives of herself.
We are thankful for the way she has loved others so well. Hebrews 13:1-2 says, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” While Betsy is no doubt an angel in our midst, we are all thankful for the way she continues to love and care for others. Friends wanted to honor her with special memories from over the years!
Betsy truly embodies what it means to be a kind soul. She is so full of gentleness, compassion, care, and overall kindness and goodness. Every time I have been with her since her ALS diagnosis, I see nothing but joy in her heart and she still has the best sense of humor. She's an inspiration with a heart of gold, and we are all blessed to have her in our lives.
“I met Betsy in the spring of 2011 when she joined her mom teaching kindergarten Sunday school at LMPC. Nancy had been teaching kindergarten Sunday school as long as I attended LMPC, and it was lovely to see mother and daughter sharing in such a sweet endeavor. The Caulkins’ ladies in their signature pink and green brightened the room just like their love for Jesus and their desire to serve him enlivened the atmosphere. Betsy has continued to teach kindergarten Sunday school ever since then. She has been a delight and a blessing to have in our midst!”
“Betsy is kind, fun to be around, and always takes an interest in others. Her mom Nancy Caulkins had a big impact on my life and was my Sunday school teacher on the pre-k / kindergarten hall at LMPC. She let me be her assistant in that class when I was a little older(upper elementary school). When I moved back to Chattanooga with a family of my own, I was happy to see that Betsy had started teaching in the same Sunday school class that her mom taught in for many years. It was so sweet for me to be able to drop off my 5 year old daughter Kaky in Betsy’s class (the very one where her mother taught me when I was 5). She has a gift of creating a warm and welcoming class for those children just like her mom.”
Elizabeth Morton Doak
“I loved being in Ms. Bookout’s class so much, as she really encouraged and inspired me to read and to really love it.
We did so much fun stuff in third grade, and most of it was thanks to Ms. Bookout, like writing letters in shaving cream, watercolor, and even visits to Thrive to help out and make cards! I love her so much and have missed being in her class.”
“Three of my children took swimming lessons from Betsy when they were young. One child in particular comes to mind when I think of those lessons with Betsy. She was terrified of swimming and was pulling sweet patient Betsy’s hair and thrashing all over the place. Betsy never hesitated or reproached, she just patiently continued working with her. ”
“My girls always love coming up to Mrs. Bookout on Sunday mornings and getting their hugs. Aside from her being their 3rd grade teacher, all 4 of my children had her as their 1st grade Sunday School teacher. They all have wonderful memories of her reading books aloud to them from her rocking chair- one of their favorite things even to this day!”
“I have watched Betsy walk this season with such grace but also the way others have ministered to her has ministered to my soul! It has made me see the true picture of community. I also love how she’s not ashamed of using her “pad” to share with people what’s going on with her. It’s truly been “a sermon in shoes.”
Betsy Bookout was my first teaching partner. Me just out of college and her with 20-plus years of experience. Immediately, we meshed together like peanut butter and jelly. I was loud and chaotic, and Betsy was there with her calm and organized nature. My room was bare and messy, while Betsy’s bright pink and lime green room brightened our grade. Eventually we used my love of math and her love of reading to make the third grade departmentalized. Through our four years of working together, we shared countless laughs, great classroom lessons, fun extracurriculars - such as making pancakes for the whole third grade (multiple times), dressing up for Boosterthon, or dominating every fifth grade vs. teachers volleyball game. Betsy was always there for me, giving me advice whether professionally or personally. She helped plan wedding gifts for my fiance and me and was there when we tied the knot. She became someone I could count on during my time at LMS. She is still the best teaching partner I have ever had and probably will ever have.
“Betsy and her family are treasures to the mountain - their faith, deep love of the community, unselfishness with their time, warmth, generosity, and sincere desire to serve are such gifts to us all!”
“I loved teaching with Betsy! She regularly poked her head in my room on her way down the hall to check on me. She was always busy in her cheery pink and green classroom teaching and loving her children. Betsy is more than a colleague to me! She is a dear, kind friend who always asks how my family and I are doing. She is more concerned with others’ welfare than her own! Betsy is an amazing person who has persevered through many hardships and is a perfect role model of faith and strength. Betsy and I love to go to Southern Star together! I am blessed to call her my friend!”
“She was a fabulous third grade teacher. I will always remember her joyful voice echoing through the halls of LMS!
“I am so thankful the Lord allowed me the opportunity to be friends with Betsy. She is one of the most generous and giving people I know - both of her time and resources. I will never be able to eat a Rice Krispie treat again without thinking of her and all the ones she bought me over the years from Southern Star. She truly has a servant’s heart, wanting to best meet the needs of those around her. Watching her patience and tender heart towards children is always inspiring. She has made me laugh more times than I can count, even in the midst of her pain. She seeks to fight for joy each day, no matter the hardships she has faced. My life is truly richer because of her friendship.”
“Betsy and I have been dear friends ever since we taught next door to each other at LMS. I taught the fun fifth-graders, while Betsy taught third grade next door. Betsy is always patient and kind as a teacher. She is a wonderful encourager who sees the best in others. Betsy’s classroom was calm and cheery with her pink and green everywhere. Students loved being read to by Betsy.
“To us as teachers and staff, Betsy is a dear friend. We laughed together at teacher meetings and over lunch in the lunchroom. Betsy loves egg salad and sour cream and onion chips. She has always been willing to cover carpool duty or to help a friend. Betsy is a wonderful person, and a precious friend.
“Recently, now that we are both no longer teaching, I have looked forward to Wednesday mornings where I get to sit beside Betsy at Bible Study. Betsy has a beautiful joyful spirit, and I love being with her. She is a treasure who is loved very, very much by all who know her!”
Ann Henley Perry
“Betsy has been a treasure to our girls. From their first days of swim team, to coaching their swimming at McCallie, to Sunday school at LMPC and teaching at LMS, she has loved them and encouraged them (and rewarded them with candy!). Our girls have had such a dear relationship with her. She has spent so much of her life devoted to the children of Lookout Mountain and the Chattanooga community and has touched so many lives. Our children wouldn’t be the same without having had her smile, her cheerful Lily prints, and candy treats!”
“Mrs. Bookout is the best teacher ever. She is super nice. I loved it when
she read aloud to us in class; it was always super fun.”
“It was fun during COVID-19 in 2020 to have her as our own pen pal. It was great to hear from her and get candy! She always gave out a lot of candy!”
During quarantine, the Carr girls would walk to Mrs. Bookout’s house and leave letters for her. Mrs. Bookout always had letters and candy waiting for them. Clearly, Betsy has always been an incredible teacher who invests in her students in and out of the classroom!
Betsy Bookout is one of those special teachers who fully invests in her students - whether they are her swimmers or classroom students. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk said, “A good teacher is like a candle. It consumes itself to light the way for others.” We are all thankful for the guiding light that is our wonderful, precious, beautiful, courageous Betsy Caulkins Bookout.
by Ann Henley Perry