Beloved by all who knew her for her generosity, her warm hospitality and joy for living, Helen Hubbard Betts died peacefully on November 13, at the age of 94. She was a resident at the Fairhaven retirement community in Sykesville, Maryland.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Helen grew up in Lower Merion Township outside Philadelphia and graduated with honors in 1936 from Lower Merion High School. She graduated from Hollins College with a major in Art History in 1940 and remained a strong supporter of the school where she played a leadership role. Combining beauty and intelligence, Helen was ranked as “one of the best dressed girls on campus” by Mademoiselle Magazine in 1940 while she served as editor of the Hollins yearbook, co-wrote a witty guide to campus life for incoming freshmen and served as a member of the Hollins secret honor society, Freya. Her guide for freshmen was copied by other colleges.
Helen led an adventurous life with her husband, Allan Fuller Hubbard, a young civil engineer she married in Trinidad in 1941. During the war, her husband served in Army intelligence and Helen worked as a censor. At various times they lived in Venezuela; Costa Rica; Miami Beach and Lake Wales, Florida; Chase City, Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia; and College Park, Maryland. Helen was active in the American Association of University Women and either participated in or created an arts council most places they lived. She was also active in the Episcopal Church. Helen taught 5th grade and then earned a Master’s Degree in Media and became an elementary school librarian She also took up photography, an avocation she enjoyed enormously.
Her husband, Allan, died in 1970. Helen stayed in Petersburg until 1988 when she married Charlie Betts, a VMI classmate of Allan’s. They resided at Charlie’s family home, Windsor Castle Farm, in Smithfield, Virginia, until Charlie’s death in 1998.
Helen spent many summers at a family cottage on Kerr Lake in North Carolina, where she conducted “camp” for her grandchildren, who recall these summers with great fondness. Helen’s husband Charlie also enjoyed spending time at Kerr Lake.
Known for her wonderful gatherings at Fairhaven, she was always especially welcoming to newcomers. She loved a party and especially enjoyed her 90th birthday party which more than 100 attended to wish her well.
Helen is survived by her son, Allan Campbell Hubbard, and her daughter, Suzanne Hubbard O’Hatnick, both of Baltimore, Maryland, and their spouses, Rochelle and Robert; her step-son, Charles Betts of Asheboro, North Carolina, and step-daughter Anne Betts Allen of Williamsburg, Virginia, and their spouses Jaci and Kenneth; her grandchildren Elizabeth Hubbard Stein (and Neil) of New York, New York, Bibb Hubbard (and Stephen Goodin) of Alexandria, Virginia, Moses, Joshua and Emma Hubbard of Baltimore, Joannah O’Hatnick (and Lewis Lukens) of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and Jacob O’Hatnick (and Melania) of Baltimore; her step-grandchildren Robin Hoover of Charlottesville, Virginia, Bryson Betts (and Courtney) of Greensboro, North Carolina, Erin Rawlings (and David) of Cody, Wyoming, and Katherine Burkhardt (Peter) of Richmond, Virginia; and six great grandchildren and four step-great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at Fairhaven Chapel, 7200 Third Ave., Sykesville, MD, 21784, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 29. Donations in memory of Mrs. Betts can be made to Hollins University, P.O. Box 9629, Roanoke, VA 24020 or to EMA, attention Cindy Yingling, 576 Johnsville Rd., Eldersburg, MD 21784, for the Resident Assistance Fund of Fairhaven Retirement Community.