2/21/2023 5:29:00 AM
Bettina Eleanor McCleary
Bettina Eleanor McCleary (Beebe), of Rhinelander, departed from this earth on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023 at the age of 103. Born on Aug. 21, 1919, Betty, as she was known to her friends, was preceded in death by her husband Sidney R. McCleary (1997), her infant daughter Judith L. McCleary (1946) and her brother Cedric Beebe (2021). She is survived by her daughter Susan L. Brant of Minocqua and her son Boyd T. McCleary of Bluffton, South Carolina, along with their spouses; four grandchildren Ellison Heath, Benjamin Heath, Jessica Bracamonte, Dane McCleary; seven great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews and extended family.
Bettina was descended from a number of early colonial settlers including Anthony Morse, her 7th great-grandfather who arrived as a pilgrim to join the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635. Other early New England family members included the Haywards, Coxes, Sawyers, Bartletts, Hoyts, Websters, Beebes, Cuttings, Portmans, Pattersons, Fullers, Warrens, Lewises, Graves, Yorkes and Ladds. She was a born and bred New Englander and proud of her heritage.
Betty grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and attended Wheelock College in Boston, and The State University of New York in Buffalo, New York where she secured her teaching degree. She married her husband, Sidney R. McCleary, on Oct. 11, 1941 in Boston, and resided in numerous cities including Flint, Mich., Maynard, Mass., New York, N.Y., Bergenfield, N.J., Grand Island, N.Y., Detroit, Mich., Grosse Pointe, Mich. and finally Rhinelander, beginning in 1976, where she resided in her home on Lake Mildred, then Lakeshore Drive, and finally at Grace Lodge.
Betty's zest for life and friendships kept her engaged in numerous activities including teaching at the elementary and nursery school level, active membership in the Episcopalian Church (most recently St. Matthias in Minocqua), Learning in Retirement, American Association of University Women, the YMCA's Silver Sneakers, and Study Club. She loved giving back to her community through her volunteerism including: working with the blind in Detroit, Mich.; as the "picture lady" for the local public schools bringing art to the children of Rhinelander; and as a hospice volunteer.
Betty is best known for passion about all things in nature. One would frequently find her during leisure time exploring a new path, picking wild flowers, gardening in her wonderful prairie garden or birdwatching. She never missed an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
She was an adventurous woman, traveling on an expedition in her 80s up to the far reaches of the Amazon River, exploring the Galapagos Islands, swimming with the whales in the Baja, and touring up the coast of Alaska on a naturalist-led, small cruise ship. Almost yearly, often with family, she would visit her beloved Sanibel Island, where she enjoyed birding and shelling.
Above all else, Betty was a giving person of her time, love and talents to family, friends and neighbors. She always expressed interest in the lives of those she met, and had an easy way of drawing people in. Her selfless love of others was reflected in her willingness to lend a hand to a neighbor, have a heart to heart talk with a dear friend, or bake a goodie to take to someone in need of comfort. Betty was an inspiration and source of joy for the lives she touched.
Her passing will be a loss to family, friends and the community she was so bonded to.
To honor Betty's memory, we are holding a celebration of her life on Friday, July 28, 2023 at 11 a.m. at St. Matthias Church, Minocqua.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial in Betty's name will be established to benefit her favorite charities: St. Matthias Church, the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Audubon Society and the Rhinelander District Library. Any such gifts may be directed to her family. You may also leave your private condolences for Betty's family at www.carlsonfh.com.
The Carlson Funeral Home (715-369-1414) is serving the McCleary family.
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