A remembrance by Bonnie Berger Porte
Betsy was my roommate junior year after her term abroad in France. She was very sweet and studious, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in French. She led quite a life after college, one I would never have predicted.
When we graduated, she was engaged to a St. Olaf junior. She taught until he graduated and decided he wasn’t ready for marriage. The Peace Corps was her next destination. She taught English in Tunisia to French-speaking young boys who were blind. During this time she got involved in reading the Bible and the Koran and got herself somewhat mixed up. She was sent home for counseling. Following that she decided to become an Episcopal nun. The nunnery was in New York City near where I was living at that time. She lasted about six weeks. Then she went home to Cleveland and attended a concert with Up with People. She decided to sign on as a singer and French teacher.
After about a year, she ended up in Canada, I think Montreal. She met a man who had just gotten out of prison and wanted to start a program for rehabilitation for those just coming out of prison. Betsy married him and they had two kids, one of whom she named for me. Her husband stayed out of trouble until they had their second child, but apparently was not able to stay straight. He put Betsy through much grief and soul searching, culminating in a divorce and Betsy’s move with the children to Salt Lake City, where she could find “The Truth” in the Mormon Church.
In 1977, she met Gary Gillum, a widower with two children the same ages as hers. Gary’s first wife had died of cancer. They married and had two children together. Gary was a librarian in a Mormon college, and they had a beautiful and loving relationship. Betsy was diagnosed with stomach cancer in December of 1985 and died March 18, 1986.
Intense is a word I would use to describe Betsy—whatever she did, it was with great intensity. She is missed very much.