Obituary of Elizabeth Wallace
Elizabeth (Betsy) Wallace passed away on October 6, 2020 at age 89 from complications of COVID-19 at Channing House in Palo Alto, CA. She is survived by her son Jon and his wife Shawnna, daughter Ann, son Ted and his wife Laura, one grandson, five granddaughters, two great granddaughters, her sister Mary K Wall and her husband Mike, two nieces, one grandniece and grandnephew, a great grandniece and great grandnephew. To her grandchildren, Betsy was known as either Farmor or Mormor, this tradition from her Swedish father, depended on whether she was their Father’s Mother or their Mother’s Mother.
Betsy was born Feb 16, 1931 in Hoover Pavillon (then the hospital) in Palo Alto to Frank and Betty Lundquist where she and her sister Mary K grew up. Betsy attended Addison Elementary, Jordan Middle School and Palo Alto High School. After high school, Betsy attended Antioch College in Ohio for a year 1948-49 (one claim to fame was that she babysat, then toddler, now actor, John Lithgow while she was a student at Antioch). She became “homesick” for California, so after a year in Ohio, she attended Santa Barbara State College. Her third year was at San Jose State College after which she married Bob Wallace in 1950 (they divorced in 1975). She finished her degree in 1953 in Psychology and Philosophy at San Jose State and attended that graduation while she was pregnant with her second child, Ann.
Divorce opened a new chapter in Betsy’s life in employment and international travel that spanned many years. She worked for Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) beginning in the 1980’s, her kind boss was Orin Zimmerman (who lives at Channing House with his wife Josephine). It was a fulfilling job that she enjoyed and also helped to fund her extensive travel adventures.
Travel - she enjoyed many trips with friends and her long time partner Tom Beckett who passed away in 2007. Peru 1978, Hawaii 1981, Greece 1983, Baja CA 1984, Japan 1986, China 1986, Sweden 1988, Russia 1988, Galapagos 1990, Mexico 1991, England 1991 and again in 1997 for Coast to Coast Walk, Cuba 1992, Antarctica 1993, France, hike around Mt Blanc 1995, Africa 1995, Canada, Baffin Island 1997 as well as several trips to Lasqueti Island, BC Canada to visit son Jon and family, Spain 1998, Italy 1999, Hawaii 2002. Betsy also generously hosted family trips with kids and grandkids to Maui, Santa Cruz and Carmel.
Betsy was a relentlessly successful player of board and card games and no gathering with friends or family ended without a game or two. She was an early participant of yoga and an avid hiker who was on the trails weekly either leading or joining a hike and could easily identify wildflowers and birds. Nowhere was she happier than in the outdoors, especially Foothills Park in Palo Alto, the Los Trancos trail her favorite. She was a member of the Sierra Club from 1964 as well as Companions of the Trails and enjoyed back packing and camping.
She had a lifelong love of reading, attended countless lectures, enjoyed folk dancing from childhood into adulthood, loved classical music, theater, and opera - attending San Francisco Opera for many years with Tom Beckett and Jim and Emy Thurber. Playing recorder in the Mid Peninsula Recorder Orchestra was an important and enjoyable part of her life. Ted and Laura benefitted from this when Betsy and other members of the orchestra played at their wedding. Betsy filled her calendar with many events and gatherings with friends and family. It was rare for her to be without something to do, or someone to see, and so it was devastating for her to lose sight in first her left and then her right eye.
She devoted much of her life to social justice, environmental and political causes and volunteering. A lifelong democrat who was politically active working voter registration events, joining demonstrations and protests, and attending Peninsula Democratic Coalition events.
Among her many volunteering activities, a favorite task was sorting and pricing used books for the annual Harvest Festival at Hidden Villa in Los Altos (this gave her first choice in purchasing as well). She devoted years hand pulling invasive teasel in the hills at Edgewood County Park in San Mateo to restore native plant habitat. Other volunteer activities included summer programs for Camp Unalayee in the Trinity Alps in Northern CA, Amnesty International, Stanford Blood Bank donor, the Palo Alto Co-op, KQED public radio pledge drive volunteer.
Betsy led a full and rich life and had many interesting tales to tell. She loved being with family and friends and having a good time, and will be missed by all.
We would like to thank the staff and nurses in Assisted Living at Channing House who provided entertainment, activities, exercise classes, and a variety of excursions in which Betsy participated over the last six years and for the dedicated care in the last days of her life.
A “Zoom” gathering to share memories will be held for Betsy on Sunday, October 25th