We lost a good friend this week. Betty Damren, a long-time volunteer, passed away at age 99. Betty goes way, way back with Friends In Deed. In fact, she volunteered in our offices back when we were located in downtown Ypsi.
Betty started with Friends In Deed when she retired from teaching. Over the years, she helped conduct employee interviews with Helena, worked on the helpline and wrote articles for the newsletter. She also brought in Gayle Stewart to work on the helpline with her — these days Gayle continues to volunteer for us on the furniture line and her husband Steve is on our Board of Directors.
Gayle actually met Betty 52 years ago when Betty acted as a mentor teacher to her and many more young teachers at U-M Children’s Psychiatric Hospital. “Betty was a friend to everybody,” Gayle says of her friend and mentor. “She took people under her wing … and maintained those friendships until she died.”
Gayle obviously has a lot of great stories about Betty, including the story about how she met her husband. Apparently, Betty served in the Red Cross during World War II and helped settled children who were being evacuated out of London. This is how she met her husband, Sam, who was also stationed in London with the Red Cross.
“She had such a fantastic life … She was full of life and interested in everything,” Gayle said.
Betty was especially close to her son, Sam Jr., who is an attorney in Detroit. She also has three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
If you have any stories about Betty, please send them our way to share. She was a good friend and we’ll miss her.
If you’d like to attend the funeral services, the service will be held on Saturday, January 27th at 2 pm in the Chapel at the Towsley Center at the Chelsea Retirement Community, 805 W. Middle St., Chelsea, MI. Visitation will be held immediately beforehand (from 1 to 2pm) at the Towsley Center.
Betty’s obituary is printed out below:
Betty Ruth Damren from Chelsea, Michigan formerly Ann Arbor, MI, age 99, passed away Friday, January 5, 2018 at the Chelsea Retirement Community. She was born July 19, 1918 in Ames, Iowa, the daughter of Frank & Florence (Wilcox) Jessup, and grew up on a farm near Adrian, Michigan. Betty was a retired educator, living at the Chelsea Retirement Community. Her undergraduate degree was from Eastern Michigan University. After Pearl Harbor, she volunteered for the Red Cross and was stationed in London during some of the perilous times of World War II. She and her husband Samuel N. Damren married after the war and moved to Ann Arbor. She received graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and worked at the University’s Children’s Psychiatric Hospital and the Ann Arbor Public Schools as a reading specialist during her career. She was a long-time volunteer with Arbor Hospice and Friends in Deed. Survivors include her son, Sam (Jane) Damren of Grosse Pointe; 3 grandchildren, Samantha (Steven) Stanton of Ann Arbor, Nathaniel Damren of New York City, Todd (Caroline) Damren of Washington, DC; two great-grandchildren, Naomi & Alastair Stanton. She was preceded in death by her husband, Samuel.