Dateline – Durham, North Carolina
Elizabeth (Betty) Mushak
1/21/1939 – 7/16/2023
Born November 21, 1939 in Greenville, SC, Betty died July 16, 2023 after a brief illness. She was a retired journalist, National Institutes of Health communicator, and Co-Principal, PB Associates, a heavy metals toxicology consulting firm.
Daughter of A.P. and Margaret Pender Walker, Betty graduated from Laurens, S.C., High School, Duke University, and Durham Technical Institute, as well as attending many continuing and professional education seminars throughout her life. Her areas of expertise included science, medicine, the environment, and the business of healthcare.
As a journalist and professional, Betty always broke new ground. Working at the Charleston News and Courier, she was the first woman sports journalist in the state of South Carolina; she was also the first woman news desk head and State News Editor. She then came to Durham to take the position of Assistant City Editor at the Durham Morning Herald. Betty was also the first woman to chair the Durham County ABC Board.
Along with her career in journalism, Betty was often editor for and sometimes co-author with her husband, the late Paul Mushak, PhD. Paul was a leading researcher on the effects of heavy metals on human health and author of Lead and Public Health: Science, Risk, and Regulation, sometimes called “the Lead Bible.” His work was instrumental in leading to the recognition of the dangers of lead in the environment, especially for children.
A long-time resident of Durham, Betty was involved in many organizations and took an active interest in the greater good. One of her favorite accomplishments was playing an important role in bringing the North Carolina School of Science and Math to the site of the former Watts Hospital.
She is survived by two sisters-in-law, several cousins, eleven nieces and nephews, fourteen great nieces and nephews, sixteen great-great nieces and nephews, and many friends.
Betty enjoyed reading, fishing, and good food, but the joy of her life was being with the family and friends who loved her, and there were many. Toward the end of her life, she said, “It has been a great life. I’ve had fun, I’ve had failures, but mostly, I’ve had the best of friends.”
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions in Betty’s memory to the American Civil Liberties Union or Shriners Children’s Hospital, Greenville, SC.
The Mushak family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences: www.hallwynne.com – select obituaries.