Betty de Vries (1922-2019)
Betty (Adams) de Vries came from good genes. She made it to 97, outliving all of her relatives and most of her friends of the “Greatest Generation.” Born Jan. 19, 1922 in Pontypridd, Wales, to cabinetmaker Thomas Harold Adams and school teacher Eva Mary (Mordecai), the family sailed from Southampton, England, to Hoboken, NJ, in 1929 and settled in Cleveland, OH. Most of her elementary school classmates in Cleveland were immigrants from all over Europe and all had accents.
She graduated from John Hay High School where she studied business and secretarial skills. The family attended Glenville Congregational Church where she met tall, handsome Jacob John de Vries. Betty and her best friend Florence Gadke married brothers Walter (1943) and John (1944). Betty followed John to his Army posts in Arkansas and Texas before he was shipped to Europe. She wrote to him every day, along with many church friends who were in the military. While waiting to return stateside, John was stationed in England and was able to spend many of his leave days with Betty’s family in Wales, whom she had not seen since 1929. Upon John’s safe return in 1945, he earned a certificate from Cleveland Institute of Art, and they moved to Akron, OH, where John returned to his pre-war graphic artist job at the Crawford Letter Co.
Betty and John raised three children – Richard, David and Janet – who turned out alright, earned college degrees, had productive careers, and never moved back home with their parents (except to do their laundry). Betty’s secretarial skills and welcoming personality came in handy when she worked for psychiatrist Dr. James Hodge for 18 years and West Point Market as a marketing assistant. Her many community and volunteer activities included: PTA president, Medical Assistants, Welsh Club, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (60+ years), Family Service, and Girl Scout leader (She said it was the best troop in Akron.). Betty paid for a Life Membership in Girl Scouts (25 times the annual dues) at age 89 because she thought it was a “good investment.”
When John died after 65 years of marriage, Betty moved to Casper, WY, to be near her daughter Janet and her partner Leanne. She remained very active with them -- attending plays, movies, tea parties, Girl Scout events, eating out, PFLAG meetings, and holiday and birthday parties with their friends. She made quite an impression on the staff at Life Care Center where she lived for the last 4 years – telling very imaginative stories (some with truth and some with alternative facts), firing staff who brought her pills or wanted to change her briefs, and rehiring and giving raises to the staff. She appreciated all of her visitors who created moments of joy.
Betty died in Casper, WY, on Feb. 26, 2019. Many years ago, Betty had typed up an order of service for her funeral. While Betty was still breathing, Lutheran Pastor Brenda Frelsi and Presbyterian Pastor Lynn Williamson conducted that service at her bedside. She will be cremated and inurned with John and mother Eva at the Dover Burial Park in Dover, OH, sometime later when the ground thaws. There will be a graveside service at that time. She is survived by Richard (Norma), Chicago; David, Evanston, IL; Janet (Leanne Woodfill), Casper, WY; grandchildren Benjamin, Carolina, Evan, and great grandson Jonathan, and many people who loved her.
Donations in Betty's memory may be made to:
Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming
2303 Grand Ave., Billings MT 59102
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