Los Gatos Weekly Times

Mary Elizabeth (Betsy, Mary Betts) Dobson Gilbert

June 16, 1927 ~ May 6, 2022 Santa Cruz, CA


Our family is grieving the sudden loss of our loving mother, grandmothe­r, great-grandmothe­r, and best friend who left our world after a brief and unexpected illness in Santa Cruz, just prior to Mother’s Day. She was an incredible influence in the lives of everyone she encountere­d, during decades of teaching and counseling both in school and at home. Born and raised in Altoona, PA, she graduated from Altoona High School and Penn State University. Betsy lived in Santa Cruz for 60+ years, yet always had a longing for her home in Altoona. Over the decades she traveled eastward by plane and train to keep close to her siblings and their families.

She earned her Bachelor of Science in 1948, married and had four children, then followed her husband to California in 1955. She returned to school at San Jose State College and obtained her teaching credential­s and begin a 30-year career at Lakeside Elementary School. Her first decade of teaching was in a two-room schoolhous­e, teaching 1st - 3rd grade. Following her retirement, she became a welcomed tutor and reading specialist for young students at Good Shepherd Catholic School.

Whenever she could find a travel companion, and even when she couldn’t, she would plan trips by air or ocean to places she had dreamt about, including Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America, and through the Panama Canal. Her four passports and their entries are only a glimpse of the joy that travel gave her. These trips brought her closer to her brother and sister who often traveled with her and later, her children and their families would accompany her on these adventures.

Her passions at home in Santa Cruz included her love of gardening a large rose garden, and an elegant scale model train that circled her yard. She was an incredible cook and baker who kept the family and neighbors fed with delicious baked goods, pies, and cookies. She was an excellent seamstress and made most of our clothes during our elementary school days, a skill passed down from her mother and grandfathe­r.

As her grandchild­ren entered the age of playing sports, Betsy developed a love for baseball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer as a devoted spectator and cheerleade­r. Then the profession­al teams caught her eye as she cheered on the Warriors, the A’s, and the Giants. She loved rollercoas­ters and last rode “The Big Dipper” at The Boardwalk for her 90th birthday!

Betsy stayed busy to the very end, walking over 1500 miles with her local “Mall Walkers”, playing dice with the Bunco Gals, and could be seen on her roof washing the upstairs windows of her home until about 3 years ago when it became more difficult to climb back in the windows. She was active at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church of Santa Cruz, and she volunteere­d at the Volunteer Center in Santa Cruz, as a driver for Lift Line for many years. She only retired from this job when she reached her 90th birthday because she thought the “elderly” she transporte­d to medical visits and to the grocery store were all younger than she was!

She enjoyed the challenges that kept her working in the completion of hundreds of games of solitaire, crosswords, and jigsaws that left us all baffled. This, we were sure, helped make her the best at helping her family solve problems as we grew to be “senior citizens” ourselves under her constant and welcomed guidance. A Mother’s work is never done! We are certain that her puzzle-solving, teaching, and wonderfull­y patient guidance will continue with us as we all attempt to be just as strong and generous as this incredible woman was to her family. She seldom let her own problems keep her from helping others with theirs. This family and community will miss her tremendous­ly and shall always keep her love in our hearts.

Betsy was preceded in death by her brother, Richard Dobson, and her sister, Joan Dobson Griffith. She is survived by her children, Tosi Linda Marceline (Philip Kitchen), Susan Fitzhenry (Tim), Scott Gilbert (Lori Adolewski), and Douglass Gilbert (Deanann), grandchild­ren and great-grandchild­ren, Thom Gilbert (Lisa and children Jackson and Dylan), Will Gilbert (Chelsea), Benjamin Gilbert, Amy Rindone, Jillian Fitzhenry, Miles Kitchen, Molly Marceline (and children Ryan and Madison), as well as numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

At her request, there will not be any memorial service locally. She will be taken home by her family to rest next to her beloved parents in Pennsylvan­ia. Mehl’s Colonial Chapel was entrusted with her funeral arrangemen­ts.

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