In Memoriam

Betsy introduced herself to me in Jacksonville's old Main Library, but I really got to know her while hosting concerts in "New Main," beginning in 2006. Betsy volunteered to welcome concertgoers with the printed program guides, and attendees looked forward to chatting with Betsy as much as to the performances.

Her childhood years in New York where molded by her Italian grandmother Emilia Ferraro. They regularly visited the Metropolitan Opera, and also Carnegie Hall to see Toscanini. Music and singing became Betsy's lifelong passions, and as a girl she was invited to sing solos with an all-boys choir. She traveled the USA and Europe as a military wife and mother, and her varied occupations included cabaret singer, the first female salesperson for a farm equipment manufacturer, an associate with the Smithsonian Institution, and a department manager for the City of Beverly Hills. After "retiring" to Jacksonville, she worked with an interior design firm, and after really retiring she gave music appreciation lectures for her retirement complex.  In addition to volunteering at the Library, Betsy also was an active supporter of Jacksonville Symphony musicians.

Despite the sometimes-brutal medical challenges of her final years, Betsy never lost her sense of humor. During her final week severe pain put her in the hospital, but the pain was soon controlled and her high spirits returned, such that it was like chatting with her in 2006.  She passed peacefully in her sleep - the most any of us could hope for.   

Betsy requested that there be no formal services upon her passing, but I know she'd love it if you raise a glass in her memory. She also requested there be no tears shed for her, saying she had lived a full and happy life, and looked forward to reuniting with her dearly departed friends and family. So, these inevitable tears are not for her, but for ourselves at the loss of someone truly unique, beloved, and unforgettable.



From Cathy Chaney, November 8, 2019
      I am so heartbroken to hear this. I loved her like family.

From Susan Pardue, November 8, 2019

     Sad news indeed.

From Nicole Demas, November 8, 2019

     I find it somewhat helpful to know Betsy went to sleep painlessly & peacefully. She deserved at least that much after being in so much pain for so long. You're right, that's exactly what we all want. 

From Ray LawsonNovember 10, 2019

     I met Betsy through my dear friend Rick, and we became good friends from that day until now. I will miss our Thursday morning conversations from the Roanoke airport. They were fun filled - informative and always enjoyable. I salute you my dear friend, and may your rest be one of great peace. 

     I send thoughts of peace to Betsy's family.

From Clint W, November 10, 2019

     ❤️ 🎵Betsy loved music and supporting local musicians. She was always so kind to me. ❤️🎵

From Paul MurphyNovember 11, 2019

     I first met Betsy back in the late 60’s, introduced by our mutual friend Joe. They had worked together years before and were so much alike: razor sharp wit with independence of mind to match. If they set out to achieve something seemingly beyond their means, watch out, they would get it – or something home-grown that looked so much like the target that others could barely tell the difference. I hope they’re working on a project now. Love you, Betsy.

From Jorge Antonio Peña Portillo, November 11, 2019

     I remember Betsy, always so happy and energetic, wearing such a big smile on her face. I'll miss her greeting me every time in her loud Italian way, 'Hola guapo'.

She had good taste in music, she was so unique, original and true to herself. I'll miss her.

From Roberta Thomas, November 12, 2019

     Betsy was a dear, dear "lady" with so much charm and grace. She always seemed to present a positive outlook and fill the room with her smiles. She seemed to "radiate" happiness and joy and she volunteered many hours of service to our community which will be missed... Her smile, laughter and honesty of character (no pretense) are what I shall remember most. And even in her final hours, indeed, she asked that those she must leave exemplify her legacy of positivity ... with no tears. 

     My dear lady, we cannot help but shed a few tears for what we will be missing in your absence. You were such an example to all of us. You will be missed by many-- especially the very close and equally dear friends with whom you bonded so easily.

From Christine Clark, November 14, 2019

     She was deeply helpful and kind.

From Margaret Koscielny, November 16, 2019

     Betsy Ferraro was such a lovely person, always beautifully dressed, and enthusiastic about music. I met her at Ed Lein’s concert series at the Library. She seemed so at ease in the setting that I assumed, for some time, that she was an employee of the Library. She carried that kind of authority; not the negative kind; instead, the poise that suggests expertise and knowledge.

     It is only now, I am discovering what a remarkable musical life she had before she came to Jacksonville. I suspect there may be other women of the “Silent Generation,” to which she belonged demographically, who have  contributed to the culture of this City and to the Country in countless ways, having an impact, like expanding circles created by a toss of a rock in a still pond. The “shore” registers a vibration, but it might not realize where it originated.

     I hardy knew her outside the Library Music Series, but, the morning of the day she died, I wept, without knowing until later in the day she had gone. I had already sensed something missing from the day.

     Even though she didn’t want us to, one can’t help but be sad that a loyal participant and supporter of all things musical has departed.

     I have missed her in recent years, but Ed has kept me appraised of her life, to the point I felt a part of it, even if only peripherally.

     Betsy was blessed with her own musical talent, and by the quality of her friends, which celebrating music brings together. She returned that blessing through her support of many musical enterprises, as well as the musicians whose talents she appreciated so much.

From Dale Hudson, November 20, 2019

     Apropos of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for having known Betsy Ferraro. She was a fascinating woman who led such a full life. Our friendship began late in life, but every visit was a delight and memorable. RIP dear Betsy, Dale.

Betsy & Ed Koehler preparing for a Nov. 2008 Main Library concert reception

Betsy at a Library holiday party, Dec. 2009

New Years Day 2011: Betsy with Ed Koehler and Me

... is a song I wrote for Betsy. She said September was her favorite month because it was when she returned to school and could concentrate on her music lessons.

A live concert performance by Betsy's friend Peter Dutilly (viola) & Galen Dean Peiskee (piano) may be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQGuYtPCQfQ. And, for a clarinet & piano performance video with Wonkak Kim & Grace Eun-Hye Choi, see https://edwardlein.instantencore.com/web/video_details.aspx?ItemId=874574

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