Betty M. Berens, 90, of Middlebury, Vermont passed away on January 28, 2018 at the Residences at Otter Creek. She had recently spent a joyous holiday season and celebrated her 90th birthday at the Middlebury home of her daughter Kathy and her husband John Purcell; they were joined by Betty’s son Bob and his wife Patricia of Belmont, Massachusetts as well as grandchildren Evan Purcell and his wife Kate Ashton; Emily Purcell; and Timothy, Katy, and Peter Berens.
Betty was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, the daughter of Elizabeth (Wickham) and Will McAdam. Betty, her brother Bill, and family moved to Cleveland, Ohio during her elementary school years. After graduating from Shaker Heights High School, Betty attended Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she met her future husband, Alan Berens. Betty joined Al in Cleveland when he started his doctoral studies at Case Institute of Technology, and she finished her undergraduate studies at Flora Stone Mather College, earning a degree in psychology. Betty and Al were married in 1949 and moved to Hudson, Ohio in 1950.
When her two children were very young, Betty started a nursery school in their home, maintaining it until they were both in school. She then directed her energy toward volunteering and working at area mental health facilities in the Akron, Ohio area, where she developed an intense belief in the value of volunteering as a way to serve the community. Wanting to make a difference closer to home, she worked closely with Hudson Public School administrators to develop her vision of the important role volunteers could play in the local schools. Betty was also passionate about the need to make sure volunteers felt welcome and appreciated and that everyone knew they indeed were Vitally Interested People, who made a huge difference in the life of the school community. In 1968, she started the Hudson Public Schools' VIP Volunteer Program, which became nationally acclaimed as a model for how volunteers can support their local educational community. She was recognized by President Gerald Ford in Washington for her efforts and leadership. Still going strong after 50 years, the VIP volunteers continue to provide over 40,000 hours of service to the Hudson schools each year.
Betty and Al enjoyed travel throughout their marriage. There were yearly family camping trips throughout the United States and Canada with a little pop-up camper and the family’s two beagles. Betty had a stoic, yet resolute acceptance of those ordeals, as long as she could bring her hairdryer and was guaranteed at least one night in a motel. After the children had grown, Betty and Al continued to travel to Europe and then particularly enjoyed two trips to Alaska and Hawaii.
When Al retired from his life-long career as a research chemist at B.F. Goodrich, Betty and he wanted to move closer to their daughter’s family in Middlebury and to their son’s family in Boston. They moved to Weybridge, Vermont, building their dream house on Snake Mountain. Betty loved spending time with her children and five grandchildren and getting involved with her new community. They relocated into Middlebury when they no longer felt the urge to fight Mud Season every spring, and eventually moved into the Residence at Otter Creek. Betty remained active in the Middlebury community, volunteering at Round Robin and serving on social service boards as long as she was able. She continued living at the Residence after Al passed away in 2010.
Betty will be dearly missed by her children, her grandchildren and extended family in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Ohio. A private celebration of her life will be held later this spring.
Donations may be made to the Middlebury Regional EMS; 55 Collins Drive, Middlebury, VT 05753.
877-644-2525 Hudson 2/8
Online condolences at www.sandersonfuneralservice.com