BetsTree_web_1

Dear Bets…

Where to begin? Other than Mom, I’ve known you longer than anyone else on the planet! Growing up in Dover was a childhood that was hard to beat… for a while it was just the two of us and the only thing standing between us and our imaginations were those pesky parental controls such as naps and meals… I remember the Roy and Dale afternoons (you actually alternated between being Roy and my horse) and the bike rides up and down Strawberry Hill Street… especially the ones we had just before a hurricane was about to hit… remember the wild wind and us screaming as we peddled faster and faster… and that stupid Airedale that Charlie Bean had that would try and bite us every time we rolled past their house? Then came Nick and Amy, and our universe doubled… sometimes double trouble…

Wrangling.web

but you always seemed to have a way of managing things with a gentle hand, a gift you had all your life. It was always hard for me when we were both at Beaver because you were so good at everything. A skilled athlete, tremendously diligent leader and universally popular young lady. Let’s just say I was a late bloomer… so off I went to boarding school, and our friendship shifted… until Colorado, where we pretty much picked up where we left off… both of us in college and starting to manifest the different ways in which our adult lives would progress… You got a dog, I got her puppy… we traveled together, visited, and both settled into our separate lives. Next thing I know, you’re living in Jackson Hole Wyoming in a teepee in the middle of nowhere and being surrounded each night by a pack of serenading coyotes… I lost touch with you when Mike and I moved on to Seattle, but I started to hear troubling stories about you, and being away, I could only imagine… When we moved back east and settled in New Hampshire, you came up for visits, but it was like there was a thickening cloud around you and I could only see through in glimpses…

Bets.PerformnceBWCrop

And this is the part I want to celebrate with you… sometimes courageous lives aren’t headliners… sometimes the battle of a lifetime is just to be normal like most people are without even thinking about it… little things we all stepped over without a thought were large walls between you and the world, but you never turned back… you never stopped striving for a place beside the rest of us… and you never quit even when you had achieved a life of independent living in Boston. In your recent years you were relational glue for the family and beyond… You were often the first to know and always the faithful caller… your caring and generous heart manifest itself in the small things you did…
There is only one Christmas card so far on our front bureau… the first of the season… it is from you… on the front, all it says is “Peace”.

With love, Sue…
your old Pal from the Erie Canal…
…drink to the love of joy!

Share

  1. David Weisenthal says:

    I never met Betsy, finding this page completely by accident. But the tears in my eyes and joy I feel reading these wonderful tributes to her are heartwarming. I read all the stories, and these and the photos made me wish I had been a friend of hers. I plan to camp in Flagstaff Arizona this weekend with my Shepherd Rocket, and will think of her-this stranger to me, and all the super friends who loved her so.
    Best wishes to all, Dave xox

    keep on truckin

  2. Amanda Kasper says:

    Betsy,

    Today we celebrate your life…. You were a special soul that touched many, many hearts. A day has not gone by without you in my heart.

    I want to share one of my happiest memories of you, this one from my childhood- the puppet show creator! I will never forget the creativity and vigor of your shows that evoked our interest and imagination for hours. The memory of being captivated by your stories and the endless accompanying laughter is something I will be sure to share with Jack as he grows.

    Thank you for your love Bets, your life and kindness will never be forgotten. We miss you everyday!

    Love,

    Amanda, Joe & Jack

  3. Janie says:

    Dear Drinker Family,

    I want to express my sincerest sorrow to all of you. You probably don’t remember me that well, as I wasn’t at your house much outside of Betsy’s birthday parties and wasn’t a close friend of hers. But I do remember so very well those wonderful parties every Columbus Day! What I recall most is playing “Kick the Can” in your backyard with all our CRS classmates and having a wonderful time, then going inside to sit around your dining room table with cake and ice cream! What a splendid, old fashioned, and innocent time!

    And I always remember Betsy’s kindness and patience with us less athletic kids! I was the one in our class that Mrs. Stewart tried to teach to ice skate year after year on Channing Pond when the whole class would go there for sports after school. She often relied on my oh-so-patient classmates, like Betsy, to take a turn leading me around the pond on the ice. Betsy was always particularly cheerful and encouraging with me. (By the way, I never did learn to ice skate!)

    We all went our own ways at Beaver, but Betsy and I shared a connection through our mutual piano teacher, Lois Sollenberger. We both loved her to pieces, however Betsy remained a far more accomplished pianist than I was ever able to achieve! And I certainly always had the fondest feelings for the four of us who had ventured off to Chestnut Hill together.

    A sad event [her memorial gathering] but a chance to reminisce and remember simpler and kinder times.

    Fondly, Jane Morse

  4. Eli says:

    Hi – I didn’t know Betsy, but found her story on a cancer survivor website and just read all these lovely stories (and great photos) from family and friends. It sounds like she had a wonderful life filled with great experiences, friends, animals and family members. i can only hope to be remembered so fondly.

  5. Betsy Shearer says:

    Hello,

    My name is also Betsy. I knew Betsy many years ago when she worked at the former Store 24 in Coolidge Corner. We’d walk past each other every day and we’d each say “Hi Betsy” with a great big smile. Sometimes we’d stop and chat. I miss seeing her. I’ll always remember her face lighting up with that wonderful smile.
    Thanks for sharing the website!!
    Betsy S.

  6. Susan Beale Edson says:

    Dear Drinker Family,
    Betsy was my classmate at Beaver for five years. She exemplified all that was good about being part our world in a girl’s high school.
    I can see Betsy now, in her kilt and lacrosse stick, so graceful, fast, talented. And in the “uniform” of the day; white blouse (tucked in) with the Peter Pan collar, “A line” skirt, scuffed loafers.
    Betsy was one of the brightest members of our class of 1967. She was a leader – in school government, ’67 class, in athletics, art, any subject! Betsy was not one who needed the limelight. She was a quiet leader, always patient, calm, and level-headed.
    One memory is at the end of senior year, Betsy and I (and Missy Silverman?) decided to ride our bikes to school (from Dover and Westwood) with a mandatory stop at House of Pancakes on the VFW Parkway! How adventurous we thought we were!!
    We went our separate ways after Beaver. I thought of Betsy many times and wished she had come to our reunions.
    I am so glad to learn that she had many friends, stayed close to her family, and retained her warmth and grace.
    With warmest affections,
    Susan Beale Edson

  7. Sandy Williams Weiss says:

    Imaginative, creative, compassionate, athletic, and humorous are just a few of the adjectives I recall when I think of Betsy in our shared childhood – both at Charles River and Beaver. We explored woods, made forts and obstacle courses, skied all the best mountains, sailed challenging waters, played every sport we could, and shared confidences late into the night on sleep overs.

    I was always jealous of Betsy’s family who gave their cars funny names, had a huge drawer of over 20 packages of cookies all open for the taking, and often challenged us with ridiculous tasks such as rolling in the snow with little or nothing on, when we got rowdy on house bound, cold, winter nights.

    Who could ask for more from a dear friend, as many of these posts have illustrated? I will never forget those wonderful years of pure innocence.

    Thank you Betsy.

    With love, Sandy

  8. Lisa Perry-Wood says:

    Oh dear, Betsy. I have been reading all of the posts and crying and laughing and then crying again. Dear, dear Betsy – how I wish I had known you were ill and could have visited you as your sweet Mom visited my brother Andy as he lay sick with cancer back in the 70’s. What a gift that was to our family. I have never forgotten. And I certainly remember our Charles River days – I’m the one right in the front of the CRS picture that Louly sent. Of course I thought I was your “best friend” too! That was the gift you had – to make each one of us feel loved and fully friended every moment we spent with you. I remember when I started at CRS in 3rd grade, how scared and unhappy I was and then you came in 4th grade and the sun just came out for me. Whether riding bikes up and down Strawberry Hill and Wilsondale streets, playing endless games of hopscotch, trick or treating till we dropped (even going to the “spooky houses” where we weren’t supposed to go!), or making up our own magical games, which were always the best, you were always the MOST fun to play with. Like Louly and Janet I lost touch with you when we went to different schools, but I remember you at Andy’s funeral – how we held onto each other and cried for a lost innocence that we could never get back – the days when everything was possible and safe and good. I’m crying for those days right now. I miss you, Bets. I hope you get to come back as a beautiful and playful cat – and I will be looking for you.
    Love, Lisa

  9. Janet Wyman Coleman says:

    I knew Betsy, because our families were close friends (Uncle Pemmy was my brother’s godfather and my mother is Susan’s godmother), and because we were classmates at the Charles River School in the fifth and sixth grades. Everyone loved Betsy! She was just so much fun…so eager to go on bike rides and “explore” which is what you did with your afternoons in those days. I remember whizzing down Strawberry Hill and Wilsondale, and then from my house, pedaling up and down Main Street. Often we leaned back and held our arms in the air like goal posts. We teetered along fences losing our balance and jumping to the ground. We stepped from steady stone to loose stone along the old walls. We leapt like ponies over the jumps I’d constructed around our barn, climbed trees above the house and crouched under the lower branches of pines. If you were a little girl in those days, Betsy was the perfect friend. I remember her gentleness and warmth and what a “cool”, kind and loyal pal she was to all of us at CRS. We lost touch when we graduated and went on to different schools, but I will never forget her smile and the many wonderful times I shared with her, and our two families shared together. I send my love to Aunt Pril and all of Betsy’s family. I am so sorry.
    Janet Wyman Coleman

  10. louly chase says:


    Betsy you were my best friend at Charles River School. You saved my life back then when my home life was so unhappy. You were so much fun to be with and always invited me over to play… even though I couldn’t reciprocate. you always made me happy , made me smile.. I loved jumping on the the trampoline together and the ‘family’ feeling I had at your house that was missing in mine. I remember tramping through the snowy woods in Dover with a sled, going on an arctic exploration. I remember pricking our fingers and becoming ‘blood sisters’. You went to Beaver and I went to Milton. We lost touch but I never forgot you. I also thought it was very cool that your birthday was Columbus Day! The things little kids remember… My best friend, I miss you. louly

  11. Yanick Josey says:


    Betsy:

    You are the best. I love you so much. You are so strong, always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on. Never judged me no matter what decision i made. You loved me for me! And I love you for you too. Betsy you were that extra push that everybody needs in life. You changed my life. You opened me up more than you know. You motivated me so much to strive for what i want and continue to follow my dream and be a nurse.
    I always remember meeting you at Hynes convention center to get some lunch at the Pru. Often we had lunch out side during the nice weather and talked about how our lives are how we were going to change it for the better.
    For my birthday you and I went to the Prudential to pick out a piece of jewelery. You got me a silver ring with a pink stone in it and called it my promise ring, promise to finish school and be successful in life and let nothing stand in the way of it. I’m glad you are a part of Janiya and my life!

    Love
    Yanick

  12. Jennifer Hake says:

    Dear Betsy,
    Here i sit at my desk looking at the photo album of when I built my log cabin in Wilson. It was summer 1973, and there is a photo of your tipi out in the meadow. “Betsy’s tipi – all the flags flying” the caption says. And when I see that photo I know why I have waited so long to write this to note you. It is because it makes me cry to know that you are gone, and because I don’t want to say goodbye to you and those magical days so long ago.

    Do you remember when I first met you working in the General Store in the basement of the Mangy Moose? and asked if you needed a roommate for your room at the Sleeping Indian? It was January 1972 and you were already there being a ski bum and you were friends with everyone and they were all friends with you. The room rent was $125 per month, so each share was $62.50. We shared a lot more than rent of course. Brown rice, books, thoughts, trips to Idaho Falls with Jill, visits with Suellen and dinner parties at Suzy Thorpe’s to name just a minor number of all the things that filled the days. Remember the weather that first winter was the worst ever? – and the snow was the best. That was my lucky day when I heard that you needed a roommate! I would not trade that winter and my friendship with you for anything

    and Cree. You loved her with all your heart — and how much she loved you we all know and is obvious from every photo of you and her together. See that one of you and her together in New Hampshire? It’s as clear as day. I did not know your little cat Cherry, but am sure she was equally loved and loved equally.

    oh yes, and remember all those funny days living out on Wenzel Lane? Remember when people would drive down the pass and come out to find the Indian village because they had seen all the tipis from the top? Ha ha. I remember when we went out to cut your tipi poles and when I went with you to Pocatello (I think) to get the tipi. it was from the Blackfoot tribe. And it was awfully beautiful, and spectacular. …well at least until it blew over in that snowstorm on Halloween! that was funny too.

    ah well, I could fill pages and pages with my memories of those winters and summers in Jackson Hole. Wish we could sit for one last beer at the Stagecoach and relive them all once more. But of course that is not possible. So I will keep them now myself, knowing that it was indeed a magical time and, if ever there was a truth, it is true that we were all on a wonderful adventure in that valley then, and you were in your element in that time and that place. I don’t think that you either would trade those days and those friendships for anything.

    With love and the fondest goodbye,
    Jennifer

  13. Beaver Alumni Department says:

    We have just learned of Betsy’s passing. We are so sorry for your loss. Please find comfort in knowing that the thoughts of the Beaver Community are with you all. The following is the inscription in her senior yearbook page.

    Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker
    Entered: Grade 7

    Activities: Vice-president of School Government 12; Vice-president 11,10; Brown Captain 10; Proctor 12,11,10; F.E.P 11; Social Welfare 12; Drama Club 12,11,10; Glee Club 11,10;Basketball Varsity 10; Hockey Varsity 10; Lacrosse Varsity 11,10.

    “Bets”… the Grape… growing her ungrowable hair… feet-conscious… application to Bowdoin College (?!)… memories of the Beaver Bus drivers… forever late… always putting on lipstick in class… Special Prevention of Cruelty to Dead Animals (President)… dumbfounded by math… Firenze, the Europeans ’66…

  14. Amy Drinker says:


    Greetings to all the posters:

    Thank you for taking the time to share thoughts and memories about Bets. The pictures are great and I have to laugh as I look at the family portraits from the backyard of the Dover house–a vibrant home with an abundance of activity and life–a great place to be a kid! And the summers at Fisher’s Island and Nantucket were so much fun, sharing adventures and spending time with Gran, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As Susie has written, the family web is strong and stretches back a long way.

    I have just spent a couple of days with Mom, and we had a wonderful time remembering Bets from the good old days of childhood, as well as Bets’s travels through later life when the going was tough but she always kept going. As everyone has written here, Betsy was a kind person who treated everyone equally, without passing judgement. (Or if she did, it was pretty spot-on). She was one of the wisest people I’ve known, despite her personal battles. And funny too.

    As the youngest of the four kids, I grew up looking up to my siblings. Betsy did more than her fair share of babysitting for me, but she was always inclusive, even letting me hang out with her friends listening to music (I remember the Beatles in particular). I have gotten a good chuckle out of the memories here of her tucking in her shirt–is that why I tuck in my shirt???? Probably!!! When I was little, she and Nick taught me the consequences of being a tattletale, at which I excelled given the understandable amount of teasing my gullible personality invited (and still does). But even then, she was pretty reasonable about what would happen to me if I ratted. I always looked forward to her visits home from college and Wyoming. She would take me on marathon hikes that even she admitted were a bit over the top, although at the time I took her strenuous level of exercise for normal. We spent a lot of time together, including filling out police reports due to her various fender benders resulting from her vague driving habits; she didn’t want to turn her head because it would mess up her very carefully arranged hair, so she tended to change lanes when she shouldn’t because she couldn’t see the other car. We all have our priorities….

    As much as we four siblings are quite similar, I think that Betsy was much braver than I am. She had a curiosity about facing adversity head-on that would be crushing for me, but for her it provided a way to touch the flame of life, maybe get a little burned, but come away feeling replenished and more alive. She lived her life as an independent person to the end, the way she wanted, with her cat Cherry (who, by the way, is living like the Queen of Sheba with the caring and loving owner to whom Betsy left her).

    It will take me a long while to get used to Bets not being here. She taught me many things, some intentional and some not. We shared a bond that was tested, but never broken–I think that’s how love is. She was generous, she was a poet, she knew light and she knew dark. May her spirit be at peace.

  15. Steve Pozzi says:

    Betsy, You leave me with wonderful memories of summertime walks at Walden Pond, Neil Young Music, Concerts at Government featuring the Everly Brothers, the Four Tops, and the Rascals, to name a few, Lunch at the Korib in Brookline, the efficient Labor Day move from Chapin Road-Newton Centre to Beacon St-Brookline, Taking you Grocery Shopping, Introducing me to the wonderful world of cats. Your cat Katie was the sister to my first cat, Frisky. And most important, being a helpful and steady influence for me during my stepfather’s last years of his life dealing with Alzheimers. I miss you, Sincerely, Steve from Newton Centre.

  16. Jill Smiekel - George says:

    Betsy,
    Remember when we left the University of Colorado and headed to Jackson Wyoming. We were only going to stay a few weeks and then head to Aspen.
    Well, we rented a small trailer in the town of Jackson and never left!
    We were quite close in those first years there. I remember going into the Wind River Range on a week long hike. We went with Robbie, who you liked, and Kim, who I liked.
    After the first day of a long hike up hill, I started to cry. My feet hurt and I wanted to give up. You slowed Robbie and Kim down and walked slower the next day. Stopping at lakes to fish etc. so I could keep up. I’ll never forget your kindness to a friend. Especially since we were at that age where it was “all about me!”
    Because you were so closed up about your own insecurities and I was so into myself, I never saw the issues you were having internally. You left for a trip to California in 1970 with my friend “Golde” and then on to search for your Soul.
    You did come back to Jackson for a while, but I was living with Kim at the time and didn’t see much of you.
    I lost touch with you over the next 25 years, although I did hear about your personal struggles. When I did find your phone and called, you were out of the home and in your own apartment. Getting better I believed.

    You were not a quitter, in fact you were very strong!!!

    Good-bye Friend!
    Jill

  17. Sue says:

    Betsy’s sister in law, Susan Drinker, who had many loving moments with Bets, wanted share this photo… probably one of the last ones ever taken, when she and Nick visited Bets and Cherry this past fall…

  18. Sue Toland LeFevre says:

    As we are pulled into the swirl of the Christmastime, I am thinking of Betsy, and those who loved her so, and I am thankful that we are all in this together, whether close or far away. Family ties are something to hold, gently but forever, here on the planet and in the great beyond.
    Sending all my love to all of you, Susie Toland LeFevre

  19. Ernesta Ballard says:

    To Betsy,
    I wish I had known you when your life was hard. My daughter, Marieke has lived with mental challenges that others cannot imagine. You can. I am helpless. I would have offered you the love and support that I offer her. When Marieke was in the hospital last year I sang a lullaby to her each night. We were miles apart, but I sang. I will sing for you, too.
    Babe

  20. Sue says:

    Corinne… I wanted to share with everyone this photo which you sent me of Bets in 2006…
    It is a lovely moment and she looks happy and healthy… Thank you for sharing it with us.

    It is also the photo on the Boston Globe death notice, published December 11, 2009 which reads as follows:

    Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker

    Drinker, Betsy of Brighton, age 60, passed away Tuesday, December 2, 2009 at home. She was the beloved daughter of Priscilla T. Page of York, ME and the sister of Susan G. Drinker of Glenwood Springs, CO, Nick Drinker of Exeter, NH, and Amy T. Drinker of Marblehead, MA. Betsy was an employee of Star Market in Brookline and a long time resident in the Boston area. She grew up in Dover, MA and attended Charles River School in Dover, Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, and the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. She had a life time of adventure, travel and personal introspection, and her generous heart and open acceptance was embraced by many people in all walks of life. A memorial service is planned for spring 2010 in the Boston area. For details on this, and a celebration of her life, please visit http://www.PuttingAFaceOnCancer (or http://www.PAFOC.com). In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, or an animal shelter in your area.

  21. Nick Drinker says:

    She would call every Sunday night without fail between seven and eight. We would have a friendly banter about the past week and she was always upbeat and keenly interested in what was happening in our lives. Betsy lived for the successes of others and genuinley reveled in the news of our family so these conversations always centered on my side. Bets led a simple life by design, choosing not be be in clubs, causes or on the internet but rather explore her surroundings … her endless walks all over Boston drew her into the city’s folds. Bets was very conversational with anyone, from a homeless man to a woman in a business suit, in fact she was almost child-like in her innocence with all kinds of people with no stereotyping or impatience. It was ironic that a girl brought up in a suburban Boston town and later lived in tee-pees in the wilds of Wyoming would find solace in a big city. But then Betsy was hardly conventional. She never asked for anything but love from people, never complained about her medical demons or what she could have been if not afflicted by these challenges. She asked us to accept her for who she was and that could sometimes be difficult because of her compulsive behaviors. All of us had countless discussions with Bets about the dangers of anorexia, drug abuse and walking too much on a very bad ankle injured years ago in a swimming hole accident. Maybe our persistence bought her more time but in the end we had to respect her right to make the ultimate decisions about her health. Betsy was an excellent mother and friend to her array of cats, with her beloved Cherry at her side in the end. Cherry-Cherry as Bets would call her was the light of her life and a loyal companion. I also remember Cree, her dog years ago that was affectionately known as licky-lips and if animals reflect the personality of their owners Cree was a sweet, unassuming dog (but a hunter like her Coyote forefathers). She was equally loyal to friends and relatives too, for instance sending birthday cards faithfully and often weeks ahead of the actual date just to be sure you got it in time. And she was the first to send Christmas cards too, usually coming around Thanksgiving. We loved having her for Christmas and will have a wrenching void this year. Can someone’s greatness be measured in business success, charity, children, wins and losses or a batting average? Plenty are but Betsy’s legacy is in our hearts by being genuine, loyal, loving, humble and joyful. In the end, isn’t that what is most important? I love Betsy and all our family will miss her terribly. Especially Sunday nights.

  22. Corinne Kennedy says:

    Submitted on 2009/12/09 at 4:57am
    Betsy was a dear friend to me. I will miss her immensely. One of our mutual friends said of Betsy, that when she smiled the world lit with sunshine. I have known Betsy for over 20 years. She was indeed a very private person. She struggled against many health problems which included cancer. I remember Betsy saying she was alone when she was told she had cancer. That would be her situation. As private as Betsy was, she had an open, non-judgmental place in her heart for me and my concerns. She would challenge me about something, but then accepted where I was regarding it. I never lost amazement as to how intelligent she was and witty. I remember Betsy as someone who loved to walk. As she walked, she observed her world and wrote poetry that was ever so observant and insightful. One I particulary liked is:

    Life and orange
    Sun dripping on the wire
    Tastes so sweet.

  23. Woody Bell says:

    My Dearest Betsy,
    We met in May 1970 in Yosemite. It was campground #12 where all the “hippies” and people with dogs had to camp. You were with your dog Cree and you had a friend (can’t remember her name) but she had a dog named Pax. You were driving a 1970 Blazer. I was camped with my dog Gilgalad. You played guitar and so did I. Our dogs had coyote bloodlines. It was cosmic. We had a grand time singing and laughing for a day or two (don’t remember how long in Yosemite.. too much fun)..then it was time for you and your friend to leave. You were going to the Grand Canyon. You asked me if I wanted to go with you. You bet I did. What a road trip! Listening to Crosby, Stills and Nash, Taj Mahal and the Band and learning the songs on the guitars. I still play a couple of Mississippi John Hurt tunes thanks to you turning me in to him. We went to Santa Barbara and visited some friends of yours and then headed East. We camped in Oak Creek Canyon and saw Sedona.. Your friend had to fly home for a few days. I remember being in the Flagstaff airport and hearing the news about Kent State. We were horrified.
    We celebrated my 21st birthday in Oak Creek Canyon where I scaled a cliff to retrieve a rope and you had to help me down by telling me where to place my feet because the rope was there in the first place to get down the cliff! I still laugh to myself about that one.
    We went that night to the movies in Flagstaff and watched “The Good Bad and the Ugly”, “Fistful of Dollars”, and “Hang Em High”. We laughed so hard.
    Your friend came back and we all drove up to the Grand Canyon. She did the dog sitting chores and you and I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and spent 4 days camped on the Colorado river on a cool beach with a shallow cave that we could hang out in.
    I really enjoyed that time and cherish the memories. I still have the picture of you and I and our dogs the day we parted. We were posing with our Clint Eastwood expressions. You were going to Canyonlands and I caught a ride to Los Angeles to play music. I’ll never forget the lonely haunting feeling when I left, wondering if we would ever see each other again and we never did….. We wrote to each other for awhile and the last time you wrote you were living in a teepee in Jackson Hole and I was in the Sierras.
    Over the years I would think about you and the impression you made on me with your independence and your character and the things I learned from you about backpacking, (that was a hot and grueling 2 day hike out of the Grand Canyon) camping and your love of music and sense of beauty. I never forgot.
    This year I was surfing the web and came upon Sue’s cancer survivor site because of my family’s cancer experience and there you were! You had been on my mind more than ever this year. After so long of a time of just being a distant beautiful memory that I sometimes thought about, I had this strong desire to know where you went. I was wondering what had happened to you 39 years later and here I found you on the site. I emailed your sister but it just wasn’t meant to happen to make contact. This last summer I took part of our road trip through Arizona and drove on old route 66 and I reminisced about those times and I camped and went through old Flagstaff and such.
    You are in the place of no boundaries now and I hope you know what you meant to me in this life from our brief time together. I have always wanted to say Thank You, It was an Honor….Love, Woody

  24. Suellen says:

    Dear Betsy,

    Remember our college days? We were roomies, and ski buddies. You were tall and strong and beautiful and I wanted to look like you. You had fabulous ski pants – one leg was navy and the other leg maroon. A girl had to have confidence to wear pants like that. I thought that they – and you – were the coolest things ever. 

    You talked about your family – I knew about all of your siblings, although I hadn’t met them. And your father did adventuresome things – I think he was diving for buried treasure? It sounded so exotic. I had never known anyone who did things like that.

    Very early one morning I woke up to hear you screaming. I thought an intruder had broken into our apartment and I rushed into your room to help. It was only Cree, delivering puppies on the floor of your closet, and you were screaming because you were so excited. We watched those puppies being born, and of course, I had to keep one. 

    You taught me to tuck my shirts in “because it is warmer”. You had lived in Jackson Hole and you knew how to deal with the cold. Later I followed you to Jackson. We skied and we hiked and you did puppet shows at the library. I am still in Jackson and I still tuck in my shirts. Sometime in our early twenties you left suddenly to go back home. I didn’t know why; I didn’t understand what was happening to you. I understand it better now. I visited you at Austen Riggs. We wrote, but your letters became hard to follow. Eventually, we lost touch. 

    Two years ago we reconnected after I saw Sue Drinker’s name in the cc list of an email from a mutual friend. I knew it had to be your sister because I had heard her name so often. I was so glad to find you! I owe so much to you – the path for my whole adult life started when I met you, back in 1968. I only wish that you were still here, and that life had been kinder…

    Love,
    Suellen

  25. Sue Toland LeFevre says:

    That spiderweb of family love, sometimes almost invisible but always strong enough to hold, tugged at my heart out here in San Francisco for Betsy, and I could almost feel how it was tugging across all of us, each with different memories, some far closer than others, but the spiderweb is that strong because it holds us each, and us together. And there is great comfort in the together. Love from those of us out here, all the way back to you, and especially for Betsy.

  26. phoe says:

    Oh how we’ll miss Bets. What a strong and gentle force. When I was young, I admired her so much. Like Deb, I was amazed by her quiet independence. That strength and kindness were so much a part of her spirit throughout her life. I feel so lucky I had the chance to see her off and on. I visited her not long after she entered Austin Riggs, saw her at family gatherings, shared a room with her when Amy and Larry were married. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see her more often. I was always so glad to spend time with her, and continued to be inspired by her quiet determination. She will be with us always in our memories and her poems. My love to you all, Phoe

  27. Mary Ann says:

    I had mostly written this when we received Sue’s wonderful “letter to Bets!” was going to send it just to the Drinker branch but Sue suggested to all!)

    Dearest Pril and Drinker Kiddos!

    What can I say! I am truly in shock as I wake on this beautiful Chester County morning (Thursday) and realize that Betsy is truly gone from the planet! Of course, my earliest memories of your family and Betsy go back to our courting days (an early DRF reunion in 1957), visits at Dover when we were in college and then our Wedding! What a Joy to be a part of a dynamic, fun and loving family! The Drinker Branch has always been most special to the Wagner Branch!

    Our summer times on Nantucket together gave each of us special bonds to each other, bonds to each of you and Uncle Pemmy! But before that when I was teaching — before the Boys — Betsy would come down and go to school with me to have fun with my 2nd Graders! She was full of life and the 8 year olds adored her. Sometimes she brought her puppets. She enjoyed our classroom pets which included a crocodile But she loved that I used my autoharp and that we sang songs together. One year the children’s favorite one was “Puff the Magic Dragon” — I was amazed to look up and see her in the back of the room in stitches — she couldn’t believe I didn’t know the “other” meaning! Betsy and all the older grand children of our family were part of my education to growing kids!

    She came off and on over the years for visits to Granny and to play with us. In later years one of you would come with her. BUT we always had fun and know the farm held a special place for her and she found a special sense of peace here.

    She wrote delightful poetry … we will miss her several Christmas cards with poems this year.

    We will miss stories of Cherry the Cat, her companion for so many years.

    We treasure our time with all the Drinkers recently at the weddings of the twins. Summer before last at Ashley and Patrick’s wedding we had wonderful walks each day with Betsy on the beach and delightful and thoughtful conversations. Betsy was caring and loving. We will remember her fondly, always!

    May She REST in PEACE! Our deepest sympathy and special love always, Mary Ann and Sam

  28. Sue says:

    Betsy and the Tucked In Shirt…

    A special PS for Tip and Suellen…
    It appears that tucking in one’s shirt and adjusting the waist band was a life long pursuit for Betsy… as evidenced by this 1959 family portrait taken by Gran, with a bit of help from Pem…

  29. deb, Tip Toland says:

    One year, Gran took us all Weem, me, Sue and Bets ( Phoe had to stay home because she was so excited about the trip she threw up) to New York City, I can’t remember what year it was. I think Bets had a broken leg. Granny was such a trooper. Betsy and I saw “Oliver” on Broadway together. Gran also took us to see Radio City Music Hall, but it was Oliver that equally got into both our systems and we were never quite the same afterward. The next summer in F.I. that’s all we did was sing those songs while traipsing over the rocks on the shore. All year I looked forward to Fishers Island just because I ‘d get to be with Bets. I loved how she was…. how she got to wear a knife on her belt and a rope bracelet. I wanted to be like her. I remember exactly how she’d tuck in her shirt that was always dried on a line which made it kind of stiff. I always thought of her as really independent. She taught me how to be your own person. And she was Always kind, so very kind.

Leave a Reply