November 29, 1929 – July 3, 2022
Betty P. Alexander, age 92, died in her sleep in Haverford, PA, on July 3, 2022. She was born in Charlotte, NC on November 29, 1929. Her parents, Lucille Hackney Pyron and Frank Preston Pyron named her Elizabeth Anne Pyron, but everyone knew her asBetty or Betty Anne. Betty was very close to her grandparents, Martha Miller Hackney and John Pritchard Hackney, and grew up in their home.
Betty graduated from Fassifern School for Girls in Hendersonville, NC and Queens College in Charlotte, NC. While in high school, a family living across the street from Betty’s family home invited her over for dinner, with the ulterior motive of introducing Betty to their son, Craig Alexander. The ploy worked—Betty and Craig began dating soon after and married on August 3,1951 in Charlotte, NC. They were married for 58 years, until Craig’s death in 2010.
In the fall of 1951 Betty and Craig moved to Philadelphia and Betty taught high school health and home economics in the Haddon Heights, NJ School District to support her family while Craig was attending medical school.
Craig and Betty raised 3 children together and moved frequently in support of his career as an academic anesthesiologist. Their homes included Philadelphia, PA, Winslow AZ, Baltimore, MD, Bryn Mawr, PA, Copenhagen, Denmark, Avon, CT, and Madison, WI. Throughout these moves Betty created a home and a life for her family. She intrepidly addressed the uncertainty of these new environments, ranging from living on the Hopi and Navajo Reservations, to moving her family to Denmark, with a sense of fun, adventure, and resiliency.
Betty actively volunteered and joined the communities in which she found herself. She served as the President of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) at Rosemont Elementary School, Radnor, PA, gave numerous class presentations on Navajo culture at her children’s schools, comforted and assisted cancer patients at the University of Wisconsin Medical Center, volunteered at the Nearly New Shop to support the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, volunteered for the League of Women Voters, and taught a gourmet cooking class at City School in Madison, WI. She truly lived out her daily instruction to her children as they left home for elementary school: “Be a good citizen today!”
Betty and her husband were longterm members of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church—a spiritual home that she returned to throughout her adult life. She volunteered at the reception desk there and greeted all who needed help, tutored kids in a West Philadelphia reading program through the church, sang in the Singing for Life Program, and taught the first class in the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Nursery School. When in Door County, WI she regularly attended the Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church.
Betty had many interests and passions. First and foremost, she instilled in her children and grandchildren the importance of close family connection—no event was too small to come together and celebrate. She made every holiday and birthday a special occasion, planning months in advance for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays and summer vacations. She also thoroughly enjoyed her grandchildren, taking them on far-flung trips in the U.S. and abroad.
From a young age, Betty was an animal lover, taking in stray cats and dogs. She nurtured 2 dogs and 4 cats over the course of her adult life. She lovingly cared for her last cat Haley, who was a constant companion in her final years.
She enjoyed cooking and entertaining and was renowned for her creatively inspired University of Wisconsin anesthesia Department annual parties. She raised home decorating to an art in all of the homes she lived in; she and her husband were world travelers and introduced their children and grandchildren to many foreign adventures. She loved socializing, dancing, her Manhattan cocktails, playing games, and her annual trips to New York City with her daughters and daughter-in-law. Betty partied wherever she went, making all around her feel welcome.
In 1986, Betty purchased a vacation home for the family on Lake Michigan in Door County, WI. She spent much of her time lovingly furnishing and remodeling the home, traveling there almost every weekend while living in Madison WI. Betty and Craig spent time there with their children and grandchildren and would host them over holidays and summer vacations. She was the creator and fervent leader of the Alexander’s Ragtime Band Christmas Parade and other rituals that she imparted to her grandchildren. Door County was one of her favorite places in the world. She loved the lake views, the birds, her collection of art there, as well as her group of close friends, including Craig and
Betty is survived by her 3 children, Christian A. Libson (Jeff) of Bryn Mawr, PA, Craig Alexander (Amy Wasserstrom) of Takoma Park, MD, and Baine B. Alexander (Charles Curtis) of Madison, WI; by 8 grandchildren, Adam Libson (Kirsten Viering), Alex (Liz) and Quinn Libson, YouQui Wei, Lily Alexander (Karla Jimenez-Magdaleno) and Langston Alexander, and Beckett Jackson and Wyeth Jackson (Laura Fletcher); by 2 step-grandchildren, Charles Curtis (Jennifer Capouilliez) and Philip Curtis (Mark Sanchez); and by 5 great grandchildren, Mara and Tobias Viering Libson, Sawyer, Calvin, and Phoebe Libson, and one step-great grandchild, August Curtis.
Betty’s family gives special thanks to Anita Sokan, Betty’s dedicated caregiver and best friend in her final years. Anita was truly a guardian angel. She moved in with Betty for 3 months during the pandemic to protect Betty and minimize her exposure to multiple caregivers. They sang, danced, laughed, watched livestream church services and read devotionals. Anita also took Betty to Door County 3 times so that her care would be seamless and it would be possible for her to enjoy her favorite place in the world. Anita became a member of our family. In addition, special thanks to Tracey Walker who also lovingly cared for Betty.
A memorial service for Betty will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 12, 2022 in the sanctuary at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Bryn Mawr, PA. Agnes Norfleet and Brian Ballard will officiate. A reception will follow the service.
In remembrance of Betty’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to the Eugene Bay Fund for Urban Ministries at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church Foundation (https://bmpc.org/) or the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) (https://www.pspca.org/tribute-memorial-gifts).