Betsy, my aunt, my dad’s sister, passed away yesterday, she was 89. Three years younger than my father, she lived as long as her mother. She died where she had lived most of her life in Wilmington, NC. My first memory of her, was when she and her family came to visit us in DC. Unfortunately, I had the chickenpox or some such, so being quarantined, I don’t remember all that much from that visit. Much later, as pictured above, Anne and I visited her. We were on our big bike trip at the time. My grandmother was still alive then and Betsy took us all out to dinner. We had a fright though, when Carl, her husband, appeared dressed for the evening in a tux. Our biker’s wardrobe did not include formal wear, but he was headed to some other function for the night.
On that visit, I helped my two cousins, Bob and Tex split wood. With already more than a thousand miles under our belts, I think that my physical prowess at stacking the wood kind of impressed them. While I was working with the boys, Anne helped out in the kitchen by making garlic bread, but her taste for garlic far exceeded Carl’s. A few years later, we visited her again. This time we drove and brought Dan along too. She was a grandmother by then too. My brother Chris met us there. We clammed in the mud with metal rods and Bob and Tex took Chris and I out on their boat. We raided a couple of crab pots. So, with corn on the cob, clams and crab, we cooked up a pretty good boil. Unfortunately, I had spent all day out in the sun barefoot and second degree burnt the tops of my feet. I couldn’t even wear sandals on the long drive home. Later still, Betsy and Carl came to visit us. They traveled by RV, trailering a Jeep. I feared not being able to find a spot to park their mobile home on our tight little street, but as it turned out, they left the RV on the east side. We showed them the house and toured them around town. I think that they had a good visit.
Traveling by RV was Betsy and Carl’s main form of vacationing. Every summer they would head up together into the Appalachians, to pursue her life passion, “ancestoring”, as her sons derided it. She was into genealogy way before the internet and Ancestry.com. Although, I have found comments on that site that she had made. Her methods of research were more analog, visiting every county courthouse, church and cemetery, trying to find past relatives. She wrote three books, covering three of the four branches of the family that she and my father descended from. Our family name didn’t warrant a fourth volume, having been traced back only six generations, to the early 19th-century. One other branch of the family, she traced back sixteen generations, all the way back to the 15th-century. She established ancestry that allowed her to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I’ve inherited the copies of her books that she gave to my dad and regularly refer to them, when my own writing requires. She is at peace now. Resting in the bosom of her family, with all her many ancestors around her. God bless you Betsy.