Here’s another installation of mom stories, originally written for a longer obituary than the one running in today’s paper.
A single parent, she earned an associates degree at Rider College in Trenton and worked as a secretary at a number of Philadelphia-area based, include Women’s Medical College and the Presbyterian Board of Publications. In the mid-1960s she became an executive secretary at the newly-formed Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company. An office feminist, she liked recounting the story of the day in the 1970s when the women of the office united to break the dress code by all wearing pant suits. A senior vice president was on the phone when she walked into his office and is said to have told his caller “My secretary just walked in wearing pants.… and she looks terrific!”
When Colonial Penn later started an in-house computer programmer training program, she signed up immediately and started a second career. She approached programs as puzzles and was especially proud of her ability to take other programmers’ poorly-written code and turn it into efficient, bug-free software.
In the early 1990s, she moved into her own apartment in Jenkintown, Pa. She reclaimed a shortened form of her maiden name and swapped “Betsy” for “Liz.” During this time she became a committed attender at Abington Friends Meeting. As clerk of its peace and justice committee, she worked to build the consensus needed for the meeting to produce a landmark statement on reproductive rights. As soon as it was passed she said, “next up, a minute on same-sex marriage!” In the late 90s, that was still controversial even with LGBTQ circles and I imagine that even the progressive folks at Abington were dreading the thought she might put this on the agenda!
In her late 60s, she bought her first house, in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy neighborhood. She loved fixing it up and babysitting her grandchildren. She never made any strong connections with any of the nearby Quaker Meetings only attending worship sporadically after the move. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010, she took the news with dignity. She moved into an independent living apartment in Atco, N.J. and continued an active lifestyle as long as possible.