ROCKLAND - Lucia Filomena (Beatrice) Betts, 87, the matriarch of the Betts family, died Feb. 6, 2014, at the Knox Center for Long-Term Care following a brief illness. She was born March 13, 1926, in Fall River, Mass., the daughter of Gerolamo and Filomena (Giglio) Beatrice. Her mother and twin sister died following childbirth.
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Lucia was raised initially by her grandmother Lucia Riccio and aunt Theresa Riccardi in Fall River. They lived in a three-story apartment building owned by her grandparents. She recalled playing in the well-manicured backyard filled with a small grape vineyard.
Her aunt, whom she considered her mother, died in 1932 and her grandmother died in 1935. At that point, she moved to Stonington where her father, who had remarried, worked as a granite cutter.
She attended Stonington schools and graduated from Stonington High School in 1944. While in high school, she served as a volunteer airplane spotter at a house on the shore during World War II. She would telephone Dow Air Force Base in Bangor when any plane was spotted off the coast.
Upon graduation, she worked as a telephone operator in Stonington for New England Telephone. One of her most memorable nights on the job was during the Great Bar Harbor Fire in October 1947. She said there were many calls from people in Bar Harbor asking fishing boat owners in Stonington to offer assistance to people who might have to evacuate by water if the main road became blocked by fire.
Lucia also recalls meeting a U.S. Supreme Court justice who stopped by the phone company to make a call. He then returned with the gift of an ice cream cone.
She married James Betts on April 15, 1950, at St. Mary's Star of the Sea in Stonington, a church that her father helped to found. They moved to Stamford, Conn., where he worked at Pitney Bowes. Lucia recalled that even though she was raised in an Italian household she learned to cook Italian meals through the help of her first landlady in Stamford.
They had four children over the next eight years, James Thomas, Timothy Leo, Gregory Michael and Stephen Patrick.
After the death of her husband in 1960, Lucia moved her boys to Stonington where they were known as "Lucy's boys."
She said she never remarried for two reasons. She said she believed she would be reunited with her husband in heaven and that having two husbands up there would create a problem. And most importantly, she said, she did not want some other man telling her how to raise her children.
She worked for several years at Port Clyde Packing Company and then at Bartlett's Market, both in Stonington.
In 1980, she moved to Alexandria, Va., to live with her son James and his family. Her first job was as a clerk at Time Life and then later as a clerk at Montgomery Ward department store.
She moved back to Maine in 1986, first living in Yarmouth and then in Portland in 1989. She worked for many years at the Curtain Shop in South Portland, retiring in her mid-70s. She had an active social life in Portland upon her retirement and made many close friends including a special friend who was like a daughter to her, Gerry Elliot of South Portland.
Lucia's health began to deteriorate a little more than a year ago and she moved first to the Methodist Conference Home in Rockland and then in July to the Knox Center.
She was predeceased by her parents; her husband, James; a son Gregory; a daughter-in-law, Nancy; a grandson, Jonathan; and a sister, Teresa. She is survived by sons, James and his wife, Martha Henson, of Winthrop, Timothy and his wife, Kendra Betts, of Hershey, Neb., and Stephen and his wife, Maureen Montgomery, of Rockland; a brother, Jerome Beatrice and his wife, Rebecca, of Deer Isle; grandchildren, Jennifer Steele-Betts Macisso and her fiancé, Matt Brown, of Saco, Jacquelyn Betts of Rockland, Matthew Betts of Watertown, Mass., and Samantha Betts of Portland, Ore.; and great-grandchildren, Zachary Hodgkins, Ava Lucia Macisso, both of Saco, Kayla Betts and Emma Uvila both of Rockland.
A memorial service will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, July 26, at St. Mary's Star of the Sea Church in Stonington.
Published in BDN Maine on Feb. 11, 2014