Elizabeth Jane Kelly
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Elizabeth Jane Kelly
Betty was extraordinary, memorable, and captivating in every way, beautiful, brilliant, loving, dedicated to her family, her community and her craft of writing, and blending all to perfection. In short, she was a star. When Betty walked into a room you would immediately take note of the mane of white hair, sparkling blue eyes, and vibrant smile - followed up by her wit, style, and indelible sense of humor.
Born on July 21, 1926, at the Bishop homestead in Carroll, Maine, Elizabeth was the daughter of Myra Ella (Bishop) and Albert Artemus Weatherbee. Her older siblings include Roger Weatherbee (deceased), Hope Ludwick of Lincoln, Nebraska, and younger brother, Albert ("Bud") Weatherbee of Olamon, Maine. An avid journalist and accomplished author, Betty published Four Little Acorns, a reflection on the early years of these four Weatherbee siblings.
Betty Weatherbee's budding talent and charisma were apparent in her years at Mattanawcook Academy, where she graduated in 1944 - one-act plays, speaking contests, work on the school yearbook and newspaper. She was Class Treasurer, President of the Junior Red Cross Council. All were a stage for the gifts Betty would hone and display throughout her life.
"Bett" and the love of her life, Bill Kelly, were married at the Lincoln Congregational Church on March 25, 1945, in a double wedding ceremony with brother, Roger, and Lorraine Bradstreet, Betty's best friend. Bill, who predeceased Betty in 2003, was a Marine Veteran and Purple Heart recipient in WW II's Pacific Theater.
What an adventurous life Bill and Bett had with their four children. Wherever the Kelly's landed Betty's artistic, inventive and lively style shone through- from her hometown of Lincoln to Savannah, Georgia, to Castine, Maine, (a favorite) where Bett and Bill ran Kelly's Market, to REDLAW cabin (acronym for the Kelly clan's first names) in Lowell, to Happy Vappy camp on Combalassee Pond and the Lincoln Homestead at 111 Main Street - each was an expression of warmth, welcome, family, and friends - a focus on creative endeavors, nurturing an appreciation for books, reading aloud (Winnie the Pooh), and togetherness (the Family Fun Club). Bett and Bill's household opened wide to their grandchildren (Donnie, Tracy, Alexandra, David, Kris, Kate, Bill, Leiana and Linai) and 11 great-grandchildren. All savored "Bubba's " loving touch, through shared holiday meals, the family prayer, pots of turkey soup, and traditions, like the Elf party at Christmastime where Bubba insisted on dramatic readings, poems, dances and magic shows from us all.
When the Kelly's moved back to Lincoln for good in the 60's, Betty helped to operate Weatherbee Insurance Agency with her dad, and then owned and operated the agency until 1984. Her incredible business acumen, unique ability as a communicator and compassion for her clients, helped pave the way to her success. She was a long-term member and leader of Lincoln's Business and Professional Women and was involved in town government in several capacities.
Betty loved talking and friendly dialog, and definitely thought on her feet. With a sly smile and seeming naïvete, she would direct otherwise mundane conversation into surprising directions we might never have considered. She was a lifelong learner and a sponge for new ideas and knowledge, excelling at college courses that she took later in life.
While Betty was a talented painter, her main love was the written word - a poet, avid journalist, and a columnist collecting and sharing local stories, witticisms, and poetry for the Lincoln News for two decades: Remember When, A Thousand Words and, most recently, Bee Weather. The latter collection was the basis for her book Bee Weather in Maine published in 2016. She also wrote The Swallow's Nest a book based on and including excerpts from journals secretly kept by her father in France during World War I. Most of her writings can be found at the Lincoln Historical Society of which she was a longtime member and supporter. Bee Weather can be borrowed from the Lincoln Public Library.
No one ever visited Betty who didn't appreciate the glorious family history she had on display in her meticulous and artistically put together photo/memorabilia albums. There could be no family history more complete and lovingly compiled.
In closing, included here is a poem that Betty wanted to share after her passing:
A Wink - Anonymous
I'd like to write the sort of things folks read and then cut out
To tuck away and read again when there's no one else about
I really wouldn't care a lot for an ode on a marble tomb
But I'd love a place in the scrapbook folks keep in the sitting room.
Like her writings, Betty's life deserves way more than "a wink". She was an original. A brilliant shining star who will be missed beyond measure. A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held at the Lincoln Congregational Church in Lincoln, on Sunday, September 30th at 2 p.m., followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in her memory to the Lincoln Congregational Church (for their religious education program), 19 School Street, Lincoln, ME 04457.
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