Betty's Story

WILDER, VT - Betty Brown died peacefully on Saturday morning at Valley Terrace in Wilder, VT. She was 92.

Betty was born in Atalissa, Iowa on June 18, 1923 to Charles and Nelle Metzinger Overman. She had two older sisters, Bonita and Janice, and an older brother Robert. When Betty was two months old, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan and later to Rosedale Gardens in Plymouth, Michigan. Her family spent time during the summer at nearby Bishop Lake where she developed a lifelong love of the outdoors.

Betty attended schools in Detroit and Plymouth where she was an honors student, captain of the swim team and played the lead in the senior class play. As a member of the Rosedale Gardens Presbyterian Church, she was a choir member and Sunday school teacher.

She was accepted at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor but instead chose to work for Burroughs Adding Machine and later for Detroit Diesel in the payroll department. During this time she became interesting in flying, started taking lessons and on April 24, 1943, she soloed a 65 horsepower Taylorcraft. Shortly afterward, she and a friend bought a small plane together.

After seeing the July 19th, 1943 issue of Life Magazine featuring a female air force pilot on the cover, Betty applied to the Woman's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program and was accepted. She reported to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas in February of 1944. On September 8th, she received her wings and reported for duty at Aloe Field where she towed targets for aerial gunnery practice flying a 600 horsepower AT-6. The sisterhood of the WASP remained very important to Betty for the rest of her life.

After the war, Betty moved to Florida where she met her husband to be, Ron Brown. They were married in December of 1948 and enjoyed over 65 years together. They lived first in Denver, Colorado and later in Chevy Chase, Maryland raising a daughter Kathy and two sons Rod and Tyler. During this time, Betty and Ron grew to be avid white water canoeists, spending vacations canoe camping all along the eastern seaboard but especially in the deep woods of northern Maine on the Saint John, Allagash and Penobscot rivers.

In the fall of 1970, Betty and Ron bought a small camp without electricity or running water on Gilman Pond in North New Portland, Maine. The following August, after the first expansion of the camp, Betty suggested they moved there permanently with son Tyler. This became their home for the next 38 years and they used it as home base for exploring white water throughout the Maine wilderness including the Allagash River which Betty solo canoed.

During these years Betty was busy with the community serving on the town Planning Board as well as the school committee and as chairman of the Maine State Critical Areas Advisory Board. When husband Ron retired in 1983, they bought a 1958 PA-18 Piper Cub together. Betty renewed her pilot's license and she and Ron flew all over the country especially enjoying the fly-ins at Sun and Fun in Florida and the EAA fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

In 1977 President Jimmy Carter awarded the WASP full military status and in 2010 Betty traveled to Washington DC with about 175 surviving WASP - and her entire family - to accept the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II.

In recent years Betty and Ron moved to an apartment in Skowhegan, Maine and then to Lebanon, NH where they were closer to son Tyler. After Ron passed away in July of 2014, Betty moved to Valley Terrace in Wilder, VT where she made many friends among residents and staff.

Betty was a dynamic and independent woman who lived life to the fullest. She loved the outdoors and was never happier than when camping with her husband Ron. She treasured close friends and her family above all else and carried a smile with her at all times.

Betty passed away after a battle with congestive heart failure but not before meeting her newest great granddaughter as her family gathered around her. Daughter Kathy Brown of Boonsboro, MD, survives her as well as sons Rod Brown of Silver Spring, MD and Tyler Brown of East Thetford, VT, grandsons Sean Walsh and Kevin Roy and three amazing great granddaughters Mia and Zoe Walsh, and Emilia Roy.

Plans are being made for a springtime service in Maine. In lieu of flowers, donations in Betty's name may be made to Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, 10 Alice Peck Day Drive, Lebanon, NH or to Texas Woman's University, WASP Archive, PO Box 425528, Denton, TX 76204-5528.

To view an online memorial and or send a message of condolence to the family, please visit

Arrangements are under the direction of the Rand-Wilson Funeral Home of Hanover, NH.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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