- Betty Julia Sylvester Gray Pickering, 74, of Blue Hill, passed away on January 8, 2018. She waged a fearless battle against a foe that had already won before the fight started. She did it with grace, she did it with determination and she did it while putting the needs of her family and friends first. The cancer clearly didn't like the fight and brutally tortured her at the end. Even then Betty didn't back down until her body just couldn't fight any longer. Her smile was her badge of courage.
Betty was born on September 15, 1943 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her parents, John Sylvester and Helen (Collins) Sylvester, moved there while doing their part for the war effort. Despite the location of her birth, she was a native of South Blue Hill and forever would be. She spent her childhood walking the beach at Sand Point, being a Girl Scout and working with her grandmother as they made the visiting summer people's vacation days a thing of wonder without the worry of house keeping. As a teen she worked at Frank Day's pottery shop as he crafted his wares at the South Blue Hill Pottery.
A graduate of George Stevens Academy, Class of 1961, she left there as a member of the Future Business Leaders Club but chose to start her own family. Running a household and raising three sons certainly required all the business training she had learned. In the spring of 1966 she became a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows at the Mountain Rebekah Lodge # 87. This group's primary function was to raise money for various area charities and have a good time while they were doing it. The two fund raisers that Betty enjoyed the most were the Salmon Supper for the Ira Berry Masonic Lodge in Blue Hill and the Strawberry Shortcake Booth in the Exhibition Hall at the Blue Hill Fair. At both events Betty could be counted on for her hard work and her sassy sense of humor. She may even have caused a male patron or two to blush. She brought her humor and hard work to the South Blue Hill Hall suppers and she helped organize a once a month lunch at Marlintini's Restaurant that she and some of her Class of '61 classmates attended to reminisce about the good old days.
Other than being a mother, her greatest joy was her time spent as an Assistant Librarian at the Blue Hill Memorial Library. She read voraciously and took great pride in assisting others to that end. A life change found her working as a secretary at Mountain View Realty and then becoming a real estate agent until her retirement in 2008. In 1993 she finally had the opportunity to explore a passion that had remained dormant since her school days. Dancing! Her novice skills quickly improved and she found herself dancing sometimes three nights a week. She became part of a state wide group known informally as the Boogie Buddies. These people weren't just dance partners, they were her extended family for nearly 25 years. She danced right up until the few months before her passing.
At 52 years old, she unexpectedly and quite by chance met her soulmate. Betty and Steve Pickering married on July 10, 1998, and have enjoyed a life of mutual respect, love and adventure that would have been deemed to unbelievable if written about in romance novel. They carried each other when necessary, enjoyed each other's achievements and lived everyday as if it were their last. Laughter was their trademark. Not surprisingly their families blended seamlessly. Betty has had a life well lived with the only exception that it ended much to soon.
Betty is survived by her sister, Martha Condon and Phil of Brooksville, her niece, Michelle Wassink and Robert of Brooksville, her nephew, Derek Condon and Kim of Clare, MI, her husband, Stephen Pickering, her sons, David Gray and Margie of South Blue Hill, Mark Gray and Kelle of Blue Hill, and Jeffery Gray of South Blue Hill; her stepsons Thomas Pickering and Brittany Bryant of Ellsworth, Christopher Pickering and Samantha of Orland, and Andrew Pickering and Whitney Lary of Brooklin; grandchildren, Christopher Gray and Charlene Spindler Gray of South Blue Hill, Taylor Gray and Stephen Moulton of Boston, MA, Erin Gray and Simeon Allen of Blue Hill, Patrick Gray of South Blue Hill. Sara Pickering Cormier and Tim of Sedgwick, Emma Pickering, Mara Pickering and Layla Pickering of Ellsworth, Alexandra Pickering and Connor Pickering of Orland, Barrett Pickering and Gage Pickering of Brooklin, her father-in-law, Archie Pickering Jr. of Deer Isle, brother-in-law, Charles Pickering of Deer Isle, and brother-in-law, David Pickering of Stoneham; her aunt, Wilma Collins Wheeler of Rio Rancho, NM; her cousins, Karen Wheeler, Rob Eaton, Sage Collins and Autumn Collins, her ex-husband and father of her children, Willam "Eddie" Gray of Blue Hill and her one and only very special great-granddaughter, Lucy Gray of South Blue Hill.
Betty was predeceased by her parents, a daughter-in-law, Virginia Smith Gray, granddaughter, Cory Gray, and cousin, Gail Wheeler.
Family and friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life gathering on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. It will be held at Fisher Hall at the Blue Hill Congregational Church located at 22 Tenney Hill in Blue Hill. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in Betty's memory to the Virginia T. S. Gray Scholarship, Attn: Student Services, George Stevens Academy, 23 Union Street, Blue Hill, ME 04614.
Special thanks to Hancock County HomeCare & Hospice for the compassionate and loving care that they provided to Betty.
Published on  January 11, 2018