Helen Elizabeth McBee (1909-2005) was born in Los Angeles, CA, daughter of Attorney John C. and Margaret Chambers McBee. Her father, a Mitchell County native, practiced law for over 50 years; the Mitchell County Historical Society’s museum is currently housed in her father’s law office, directly behind the Historic Courthouse in Bakersville.
A graduate of Bowman High School, Helen returned there in 1929 from the North Carolina College for Women (now UNC-G) to teach English and Spanish. She also directed drama productions at Bowman. Miss McBee worked diligently to find “new ways to teach and reach” her students; she routinely used the Reader’s Digest to help her students learn to read better. She was also known for personal visits to sick students or those who needed additional encouragement.
In recognition of her teaching career, Miss McBee received a Certificate of Merit in 1966 from Mitchell County Schools for the great “influence and effect she had exerted upon the lives of the many boys and girls under her guidance” during her more than 40 years of teaching. Though she did not have children of her own, she had a tremendous impact on 100s of Mitchell County students.
The county also knew her for her church and civic involvement, including Bakersville Baptist Church and the Bakersville Community Medical Center. Helen McBee donated time and money to the AMY Regional Library System and helped establish the Library Annex in Bakersville. She was also involved with the Mitchell County Historical Society, which is the grateful recipient of an annual bequest from Miss McBee’s estate.