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Peasley: Remembering a remarkable personality

Betty Babcock, who died Nov. 16 (at age 94), will be fondly remembered for her warm personality, skill in the TV and writing professions and remarkable sense of humor.

Hundreds of people know that. However, I have an important personal addition that helps cherish my knowing her.

She was a family friend, but in 1998 when my wife, Fran, needed a lift, Betty, with her warm personality and real interest in people, came forward. The combination of their talking extensively about serious subjects and sharing many lighter moments was beautiful to behold. Betty’s personality was just the right formula to help my wife cope with her illness. Betty visited at least once a week from 1998 until Fran’s death March 29, 2012.

Betty’s service in the Woodstock community included being as a member of the Woodstock District 200 board, giving strong support to the Woodstock Fine Arts Association’s Creative Living Series (which she helped start), and spearheading changes in Bull Valley that led to major conservation preservation in that area.

Before Betty came to Woodstock, she enjoyed a successful career with the National Broadcasting Company in radio programming. When she graduated from Vassar in 1940, she took a job in New York, and then returned to Chicago to write scripts for radio plays for WLS. Betty and her husband, Richard, were married in 1943. They acquired 30 acres of woods and streams in Bull Valley in 1949.

Betty’s husband died in 1993. She is survived by her brother, Vaughn of California; and six children, Becky Walkington of Bull Valley, Richard Jr. of Chicago, Elizabeth White, Catherine Magruder and David, all of California, and John of Crystal Lake. Betty had 16 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

• • •

After 32 years in the coroner’s office – eight years as chief deputy coroner and 24 years as coroner – Marlene Lantz retires Friday. Marlene said the work has been difficult but rewarding.

Dr. Anne Majewski, a physician who has practiced as an obstetrician-gynecologist but more recently has worked in medical consulting, assumes the office Dec. 1.

Marlene obtained her license as a mortician in 1970. She worked as a morgue assistant at Saint Joseph and Sherman hospitals in Elgin in 1970s. In 1980, the McHenry County coroner, Al Querhammer, hired Marlene as his chief deputy coroner. After Querhammer retired in 1988, Marlene was elected McHenry County coroner.

Recalling her duties as coroner, Marlene said, “The most difficult part of the job is going to a family’s home to personally tell them of a death. I feel fortunate and privileged to share these moments of sadness with families in their time of need.”

• Don Peasley has been editor, columnist and historian in McHenry County since October 1947. He began his association with Shaw Publications in 1950.

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