PUNTA GORDA, FL - Elizabeth (Betty) Beehler Collins passed
away on February 4, 2011 at Sterling House assisted living facility in Punta
Gorda, Florida where she had resided for the past 3 years.
She was born on July 18, 1918 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the
daughter of Howard L. and Mildred Lawrence Beehler. She grew up in Lancaster where she graduated from Steven
High School for Girls. She was
also a graduate of Millersville State College, and was the Librarian at the
Public Library of Shippensburg, PA and a librarian at the Chambersburg
Pennsylvania High School.
In 1943 she graduated from the US Navel Reserve Midshipmen’s
School in Northampton, Massachusetts and received a commission as an
Ensign. She reported for active
duty at the Norfolk Navy Yard where she was to meet and marry her first
husband, Joel Black. Betty and
Joel were both transferred for duty in Pearl Harbor where they served until the
end of the war. Betty served as a
“Custodian of Registered Publications” and was frequently seen delivering sensitive
material with her .38 cal. Colt revolver strapped to her side, earning her the
title as a “pistol pack ‘in mama”.
By the end of the war she had attained the rank of Lieutenant Jg.
Following the war Betty and Joel lived for a short time in
Staunton, Virginia, where their oldest son James was born, before moving to Chebeague
Island, Maine. While on Chebeague,
Betty’s father Howard and Joel founded the Beehler and Black School of
Watchmaking, a watch making school for disabled veterans, which later became
the Beehler and Black Clock Co.
Some of Betty’s fondest memories and greatest friendships were fostered
while they lived on Chebeague, with her mother and father and two sisters
Phyllis Beehler Moynihan and Ruth Beehler Dyer also living on the island. Betty was active in island life and she
and her mother prepared school lunches at the island school. Summers were full of family “lobster
feeds”, mackerel fishing, and blueberry picking. The long cold winters were times for card playing and the
end of winter was marked by gathering maple sap and boiling it down into syrup. Her second son, William was born in
Portland shortly before they moved to Connecticut in 1951 where Joel was
employed as an engineer with the US Time Corporation.
Betty raised her family in Watertown, Connecticut where she
lived before moving to Florida in 2008.
She was an active member of the United Methodist Church where she taught
Sunday School, worked on the Christmas pageants, helped with the annual rummage
sales, and taught summer bible school.
She was also a member of the Mattatuck Unitarian/Universalist Society in
Woodbury, Connecticut. Betty was
also active in “Friends of The Library” and worked for several years as a
librarian at the Watertown Public Library. She was a member of the Visiting Nurse Association and
volunteered in Hospice in the 1960’s.
Following Joel’s passing in 1968, Betty went to work as a librarian at
Westover Academy in Middlebury, CT.
Betty married her second husband, Commander Omer Collins USNR
of Marion, Indiana in 1972, and they lived together in Watertown until his
passing in 1989. During their time
together they traveled frequently and spent much of their summers in Port
Clyde, Maine and their winters in Florida. After Omer’s passing, Betty bought a home in Ellenton,
Florida and became a “snow bird”, spending summers in Watertown and winters in
Florida before moving there full time in 2008.
Betty was an accomplished artist, working in several mediums
including oils, water colors, and pastels. Her artwork spanned her life time from her early days in
Maine to her later years in Florida and she shared her works of art with family
Betty was predeceased by her husbands Joel and Omer and her
two sisters Ruth and Phyllis. She
is survived by her two sons James Black and his wife Diana of Punta Gorda, Florida
and William Black and his wife Sharon of Newington, New Hampshire. She also leaves her granddaughter
Melani Pauly and her husband Clemens Pauly and three great grandsons, twins
Alexander and Nicolas Pauly and Maximilan Pauly all of Miami, Florida, and her
dear friend Edward S. Atwood of Bradenton, Florida.
Betty’s entire family would like to thank all the wonderful
care givers at Sterling House and the support and care provided by Tidewell
Hospice. Their loving and
benevolent care was truly extraordinary and greatly appreciated.
A memorial service will be held in the spring in Watertown,
Connecticut at the convenience of the family.