Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina has lost one of its female high-tech pioneers.

Betsuy Justus, a veteran political executive who turned to technology to launch the North Carolina Technology Association, lost a long battle with cancer, dying July 9. She was 64.

I had the pleasure of working with Betsy dating back to 1993 when Capitol Broadcasting launched an Internet Service Provider venture known as Interpath. Among the earliest visitors to our operation was Betsy, who sought to recruit Interpath as a member of the fledgling organization, which also launched that year. The group was then called the N.C. Electronics and Information Technology Association.

Under her leadership, NCTA grew into a powerful lobbying organization.

Perhaps just as importantly, Betsy helped blaze a path for women in the male-dominated high-tech sector along with her close friend, Darleen Johns, CEO at IT services firm AlphaNumeric, Jane Patterson of eNC and Joan Myers, who succeeded Justus at NCTA and ran the group for nine years. Victoria Haynes, who plans to retire soon as CEO at RTI International, Christy Shafer of Inspire Pharmaceuticals and Cynthia Marshall at AT&T are just a few of the female pioneers who broke through glass ceilings to set examples for other women to emulate.

But most important of all, Betsy was devoted to her family and church.

If you were among her many friends, you know what true friendship means.

The last time I saw Betsy was at a recent NCTA event. I sought her out to inquire about her health.

She responded with a smile, said she was continuing to seek treatment, was working when she could and remained positive about the future.

Her attitude didn’t reflect the fact that she was fighting one of the most deadliest forms on the disease.

Before taking on the NCTA challenge, Justus was a senior member of former Gov. Jim Martin’s administration. She ran the Employment Security Commission and the revenue department. She left NCTA in 1998 to join a consulting firm. Justus later joined Alphanumeric when Harvey and Karen Braswell bought it from Johns in 2009.

Betsy leaves behind a wonderful legacy – and many friends. She is survived by her husband Edward, a son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

According to her obituary, a memorial service is set for July 15 at Cary First Baptist Church at 11 a.m.

The family said memorial donations can be made to the Betsy Y. Justus NCTA Founder’s Scholarship, NCTA, 4020 Westchase Blvd., Ste. 350, Raleigh, NC 27607.

For a fine tribute to Betsy, read The N&O report.

Her obituary can be found here.

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