Betty Hodgkins, 96, of Lee
Betty Hodgkins passed away peacefully this past Saturday at 96 years of age with her family and friends surrounding her with last good-byes. Betty was welcomed into the gates of heaven by those she loved who predeceased her as they sang joyfully “My Wild Irish Rose.”
G. Elizabeth Hodgkins was born May 15, 1923, in Lee. She was the spoiled daughter of William and Gertrude Boyne Powers. From an early age, Betty was invincible. She graduated from Lee High School and Bryant College. As soon as she turned 20, she immediately enlisted in the Navy during World War II, serving as a medic. She supported the war effort at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, caring for all the wounded from the Pacific theater. After serving in the Navy for three years, she returned to Lee and worked at Hurlburt Paper.
She was married in 1950 to Emmett Hodgkins. Together they had five children born in different parts of the country as Emmett worked doing the food concessions for MGM Studios. Wherever a movie was being filmed is where her children were born. Her favorite place she traveled was Marfa, Texas. She loved the town as they filmed “The Giant.”
Her last stop was Tucson, Arizona, before she returned to Lee, divorced and on her own with five children. She struggled as a single parent, but with tenacity, faith, love of life and the overwhelming support from her family and friends, she succeeded. It was not popular to show up at the neighborhood picnic with yourself and five rambunctious banshees. Betty always held her head high with dignity and resolve, and taught her children to do the same. She worked hard to provide for her family, and required all her children to work and help pay the bills. She purchased her own home on Prospect Street in Lee in 1962 for $9,000. Her home was beautiful, crazy, fun and always cold. Betty and her family thrived because she was invincible. She held many jobs until she landed as the librarian at the elementary school. She traveled Route 20 on many of snowy nights, getting her degree in library science at Westfield State College. Later in life she excelled as a job developer in South Berkshire for the Federal Comprehensive Jobs Program. She helped place hundreds of folks in jobs. She loved helping people seeking opportunity. Betty loved her jobs but worked to live, not lived to work. And live she did!
Betty had many relatives and friends she was loyal to until her death. She would show up whenever needed and would drive through snow, rain and sunshine to get anyone anywhere. Betty could put together a dinner for four or a party for 25 at the drop of a hat. She loved a party and hosted and went to many every week. She had a reason for a gathering at any moment’s notice. She was always dressed in the most brilliant of clothes (most of which she made herself in the early days). Betty loved her bright colors and classic outfits, and took pride in the right outfit for the right occasion. She never let anyone down.
Although Betty was boundless with fun and love, she was also very tough. She liked a good argument and loved the politics of compassion. She was a health care advocate for the elderly and served on the Lee Democratic Town Committee and the Lee Housing Authority. She enjoyed music, theater, white wine and cheese-its. But most of all she loved being with her friends.
Betty Hodgkins is survived by her children Janet, Michael and Christopher. She was predeceased by sons Kevin in 1966 and Daniel only four months ago, and brothers James and William Powers. Betty also leaves nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. In addition, she leaves her best friend on the party circuit and best friend in all travels, Noni Delugan. They were inseparable, always smiling and always planning the next adventure.
Betty Hodgkins will have calling hours Friday, Oct. 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Roche Funeral Home in Lenox. There will be a Rite of Christian Burial at St. Mary’s Church in Lee Saturday, Oct. 12, at 9 a.m. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lee Youth Association in care of the Roche Funeral Home, 120 Main St., Lenox, MA 01240. To share memories and stories, visit rochefuneralhome.com.