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ELIZABETH (ADAMS) DANIELS

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ELIZABETH (ADAMS) DANIELS - POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y./MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Elizabeth (Betty) Adams Daniels, who led a vibrant and healthy life, died at age 93 on Jan. 28, 2014, with family by her side. For the last six months she had been residing in Gardensong, the memory care wing of Eastview at Middlebury. Betty moved to Vermont in 2012, reluctantly leaving behind her Vassar College community and many friends. Through her many years there, first as a student and then as a professor, administrator, and college historian, she was a cherished and much admired member of a community in which she found inspiration, support, friendship, and love. Born in Westport, Conn., in 1920, Betty went to Vassar in 1937. She was selected Phi Beta Kappa her junior year, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Vassar in 1941, received her master's from the University of Michigan, and her PhD from NYU. Betty married John Lothrop Daniels on March 21, 1942, in New York City, and they eventually settled in Poughkeepsie with their growing family. Betty began teaching in the English Department at Vassar in 1948 and was perceived by her students as fair, firm, and sometimes formidable. In addition to teaching Victorian literature, she held many other positions over the course of her 65year career, including freshman dean, dean of studies, acting dean of the faculty, and chair of the English Department. In the mid 1960s, Betty played a key role in Vassar's transition to coeducation. Then dean of studies, she served on the Vassar-Yale Study Committee tasked with exploring the possibility of a merger between the two institutions, and later, she chaired the Committee on Alternatives, exploring the possibility of a coeducational Vassar instead of a relocation to New Haven. In 1985 (when she was 65 years old), she "retired for the weekend," as she put it, and then went to work the following Monday as the first Vassar College historian, a position she devoted herself to for more than 20 years, and in recent years, Betty created the Vassar online encyclopedia. While Vassar College was Betty's anchor, she raised a family of four and was a role model to other women. She is survived by her son, John Lothrop Daniels of Nantucket and his wife, Susan Atwood; daughter, Sherwood Adams Daniels of Richmond, Vt., and her husband, Ted Yeates; and daughter, Ann Sheffield Daniels of Denver, Colo., and her husband, David Ross. She is also survived by six grandchildren, Reuel Sanford Daniels of Oakland, Calif., Justin Saxton Braman and wife, Eliza Rachel Botsford of Watertown, Mass., Wilder Adams Daniels and wife, Pamela of Boulder, Colo., Carrie Adams Braman and partner, V.J. Guarino of Northport, Maine, Douglas Brownell Yeates of Ketchum, Idaho, and John (Jake) Lothrop Daniels of Dedham, Mass.; and two great-grandchildren, Casey Appleton Braman of Watertown, Mass., and Violet Autumn Daniels of Boulder, Colo. She was predeceased by her husband, John Lothrop Daniels; and daughter, Eleanor Bradford Daniels. In 2008, after John's death, Betty joined the community at Arbor Ridge in nearby Rhinebeck, but continued to work at the college until, at age 92, she moved to Vermont to be closer to family. Betty's family would like to thank the nurses of Addison County Home Health and Hospice, and caregivers and staff at Eastview at Middlebury for their loving and caring attention to Betty's comfort in her final days. There will be a "lifecelebration" at the Vassar College Alumnae House in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., later in the spring. The Elizabeth A. Daniels '41 Fund for Special Collections was created in 2010 to honor Betty's 90th birthday and to support archival work at the college. If they wish to do so, friends may make a gift in her memory to Vassar College for the Elizabeth A. Daniels '41 Fund, Vassar College, Box 725, 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY, 12604; or to the Mid-Hudson Alzheimer's Association, 2 Jefferson Plaza, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12601. Family can be contacted at eadanielsfamily@gmail.com.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Jan. 31, 2014
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