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Betty Marson Guralnick

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Betty Marson Guralnick Obituary
Betty Marson Guralnick died peacefully, on Monday, Aug. 16, 2010, after suffering a stroke. She was 89 years old and had lived in the same house in Brookline since she was 12 years, when it was built by her parents, Philip and Rose Marson. She and her husband, Dr. Walter Guralnick, were married in that house on New Year's Day, 1942, in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the United States entry into World War II. Betty was a person of intense determination, as anyone who knew her would attest. Faced with the sudden loss of her hearing at 22, after the birth of her first child, she refused to accept this as a handicap and sought solutions, from early, experimental operations to the most recent digital technology. In this way, even with severely impaired hearing, she was able to lead a full and rewarding life. It was this same spirit of self-determination and adventure, combined with a life-long commitment to social service and progressive ideals, that led her | twenty years out of college | to enroll in the "Catalyst" program for college graduates with an interest in social work. She applied, was accepted and took a job in the Boston Welfare Department's Grove Hall office in Roxbury for what turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences in her life. At age 50 she went back to school and got her Master's degree from the Boston College School of Social Work in order to better fulfill both the high expectations that she always had of herself and the demands of the job. She continued as a social worker in various roles until her retirement about 10 years ago, prizing the continuing relationships she had with both clients and fellow social workers as among her closest friendships. She carried this same spirit of empathetic intensity to the nearly two dozen visits that she made to a newly opened China with her husband, Walter, starting in 1979. While Walter, long-time chief of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Mass. General Hospital, taught and operated in medical school hospitals in Shanghai, Chengdu and Xian, Betty gave lectures to students and staff eager to know about life in the United States. She also was part of a team instructing cleft lip and palate patients and their families. Once again, it was the human equation that was at the center of the experience, as she and her husband made life-long friendships with many Chinese doctors and their families, who became an intrinsic part of their life in this country as well as on their visits to China. She was a scholar (Radcliffe 1941) and a life-long athlete, as befits the daughter of a camp director. She and her husband and their three children, Peter, Susan, and Tom, enjoyed tennis and skiing together, competitive Scrabble, and just about every other sport you could name. Betty was never anything less than competitive; she never spurned a challenge, occasionally to her own regret, and she remained intellectually curious to the very end. Most of all she exemplified a fierce (but altogether empathetic) dedication to the task at hand. She was at her best in a crisis - when a challenge presented itself, she rose to the occasion. But it was always an adventure. Betty Guralnick is survived by her husband of 68 years, her three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. At the request of the deceased there will be no funeral or memorial service.

Published in The Brookline Tab from Aug. 20 to Aug. 27, 2010
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