Elizabeth “Betsy” (Brumback) Beebe, 92, formerly of Ashfield and Shelburne Falls, MA, died Saturday, Dec. 16th, 2017, at The Hospice of the Fisher Home in Amherst. Although in relatively good physical health, she struggled with the challenges of dementia over the last few years.
She was born October 28, 1925, in Van Wert, Ohio, the daughter of Willson P. and Rowena (Conn) Brumback. She attended grade school in Van Wert, and high school at the Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, Ohio, and the Northampton School for Girls where she graduated in 1943. After high school, she attended Smith College for a short time before moving to Boston, where she ultimately graduated from the Eliot Pearson School of Tufts University. It was during her time in Boston that she developed a love of teaching, which lead to a life-long career in education.
She taught all manner and ages of children at more than half a dozen public and private schools in both Massachusetts (The Bement School in Deerfield; Sanderson Academy in Ashfield; Rowe Elementary School in Rowe; Buckland-Shelburne Elementary in Shelburne Falls; and the Academy at Charlemont in Charlemont) and New York (she taught 3rd grade at what is now the Gardner-Dickinson School in the Wynantskill Union Free School District). She was most proud of the pinnacle of her own education – obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Russell Sage College in Troy, New York, at the age of 43, while she was a dorm parent at The Emma Willard School in Troy.
After retiring from teaching at age 65 she continued to work for many years, including at the Smith College Alumni Association, Singley Real Estate, and the Mohawk Trail Concert Association. She also volunteered her time at the Senior Center in Shelburne Falls, the Mary Lyon Foundation, and several other organizations in Western Massachusetts.
One of her life-long passions was the Brumback Library in Van Wert, which was built by her great-grandfather in 1899, and bears the distinction of being the first public county library in the United States. She was an avid traveler, both nationally and internationally, having visited England, France, and Italy, as well as Mexico and China. She spent her spare time knitting, weaving, and quilting, and continued to improve her command of the French language well into her 80’s. She thoroughly enjoyed reading; her bedside table and bookcases were always stacked high with books, and her coffee table littered with magazines and newspapers. She would often cut articles out of the newspapers and magazines and mail them to unsuspecting relatives and friends.
She is survived by two daughters, Sarah and husband John Peck of La Selva Beach, California, and Susan of Tucson, Arizona; three sons: Dwight of Northampton, Willson and wife Vickie of Midland, Texas, and Tyler and wife Brooke of Briar Cliff Manor, New York. She is also survived by several nieces, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Her brother, Willson P. Brumback, Jr., predeceased her earlier this year. Her husband, William H. Beebe, predeceased her January 15, 1975.
Those who knew Betsy would not be surprised to learn that several years ago she crafted her own obituary: “Elizabeth (Brumback) Beebe, 101, died yesterday at home.” And in her instructions left with the funeral home, she also insisted, “No funeral, but the kids may decide to have a party or what-have-you”. Although she did not quite make it to 101, Betsy lived a rich and wonderful life, and always enjoyed sharing her life stories (and opinions) with students, friends, and family. She “never met a stranger”, and will be remembered fondly by all whose lives she touched. She will be deeply missed.