Elisabeth "Betty" Huntingdon Chase Odum
1925 - 2021
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Elisabeth "Betty" Huntingdon Chase Odum
Gainesville - Elisabeth "Betty" Huntingdon Chase Odum died on Thursday, February 18th, 2021, in Gainesville, Fl, while recovering from a seemingly mild bout with COVID-19.
A New Englander by birth and stock, she and her young family moved to Gainesville, FL, in 1958, and she resided there for the rest of her life. She loved the wild nature that surrounded her and shared that love with hundreds of students, her children and her many grandchildren. A biologist, ecologist, educator, engaged citizen, and wicked-good card player, she made many contributions to her community and world during her 95 years.
Born in Hartford, CT on September 24th, 1925 to Eugene Parker Chase and Ann Francis Hastings Chase, Betty grew up in an academic family and passed on this heritage to four children, eleven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
When released from the academic year, her family would spend weeks each summer at a family cottage in Branford, CT. There she would swim, sail, read, and watch the tides. She ensured that her children and grandchildren enjoyed this Branford legacy as long as possible.
A frugal woman, her personal attire and possessions were humble and practical, and yet she spared no expense on education for her off-spring.
She grew up in the Episcopal Church, and discovered Quakerism as a teenager while volunteering at a Friend's work-camp in Washington, DC. There she worked for social justice and racial integration. She attended Swarthmore College, a historically Quaker institution, majoring in Zoology. She was an exceptional student and was admitted to Hahnemann Medical College at graduation in 1947. But love and tradition would take hold of her, and she forwent this opportunity to elope with her Swarthmore sweetheart, John Morris Trimmer, and they started a family.
While raising her four children, Betty returned to college and earned her M. Ed. in 1963 from the University of Florida. She had volunteered and worked for the Southeastern Yearly Meeting, leading a variety of First-day programs for children and work-camp programs for youth. Betty delighted in her many years leading Girl Scout and Cub Scout Troops.
Betty joined the faculty of Santa Fe Junior College in 1969 as an instructor of Biology. She retired after thirty years and enjoying the status of Professor Emeritus. During her tenure, she advocated for engaged learning and for equal opportunity for women to teach and become leaders at the college. She was a member of the National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters, and the Democratic Party.
The family were active members in the Gainesville Friends Meeting. Both Betty and Morrie served as Clerks of the Meeting and were actively involved in social justice initiatives. In addition to camping trips across Florida and to Mexico, they took their family to DC marches for Civil Rights and to end the Vietnam War. The family enjoyed many Southeastern Yearly Meeting and Friends General Conference events. Betty and Morrie's marriage lasted nearly three decades.
In 1973 Betty married Howard T. Odum, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of ecology. The two embarked on a partnership that took them to speak and lecture in many countries throughout the world. They co-authored several important publications, including two books, "Energy Basis for Man and Nature" (McGraw-Hill, 1976) and "The Prosperous Way Down," (University of Colorado Press, 2001).
Combining her passion for nature with her knowledge of biology and Quakerism, Betty was an advocate for conservation of natural resources, family and world peace. She unleashed a flock of environmental scientists and community builders among her grandchildren, and took great pride in their work and families. In the early 70's after selling the family home, she purchased 69 acres along the Santa Fe River in Alachua County and donated a majority of the land to a land trust to protect it for perpetuity.
Following H.T.'s death in 2002, she found herself living alone for the first time in her life and struggled to adjust to this new environment. At the age of 86, she found love again with a delightful boyfriend, Bob Klein, who was shortly taken from her by Alzheimer's. She found some contentment and companionship through a book group and playing bridge and billiards with friends at The Village in Gainesville. She continued her traveling ways, this time to visit her family. Together they had many adventures to St. Augustine, FL, and beyond, including China, Belize, Morocco, and France. In 2016, she checked off an item on her bucket list – riding a camel in the desert.
Betty was predeceased by her parents; two husbands; her sister Kathleen Ann Chase Sibun; and her step-daughter Ann Odum.
She is survived by her four children and their spouses: Ruth Trimmer (Burton Smith), Alachua, FL; Peter Trimmer (Jane Doyle), Silver Spring, MD; Kathleen Trimmer (Dan Campbell), Wakefield, RI; S. Morris Trimmer (Amy DeHart), Lexington, VA; one step-daughter, Mary Logan, Gainesville; eleven grandchildren: Quilla Miralia; Luke Trimmer-Smith; Elliott Campbell; Eryn Trimmer; Anthony Campbell; Russell Trimmer; Tanya Trimmer; Kristina Campbell; Maya DeHart; Tolya Trimmer; and Olivia Trimmer; one step-granddaughter, Kelsey Logan Jeske; one step great-granddaughter; eight great grandchildren; and two nieces.
A celebration of her life will take place at the Gainesville Friends Meeting when the pandemic recedes. Her ashes will be interred in Hebron, CT, alongside her parents and sister.
If you would like to make a memorial contribution in her honor, please consider American Friends Service Committee (AFSC.org) or Alachua County / Santa Fe Minority Scholarship (note "in memory of Elisabeth C Odum when donating at https://www.sfcollege.edu/foundation/donation or sending checks to "Santa Fe College Foundation," Santa Fe College Foundation, 3000 NW 83rd Street, F-207, Gainesville, FL 32606).
Published in Gainesville Sun from Feb. 26 to Feb. 28, 2021.
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6 entries
March 6, 2021
I taught Biology and Environmental Science at Santa Fe for several years. Betty was always a thoughtful mentor and an example of instructor excellence. She was lively and cheerful. The classes I took under H.T. continue to provide focus on the interconnectiveness of planetary functions. Another strand in the web has been lost.
Karen Garren
March 6, 2021
My feelings. Thank you Elisabeth for your important legacy!
Biagio F Giannetti
March 5, 2021
Betty was my mentor for many years at SF and lead several study abroad trips with me. We had lunch together every Friday with Bliz and Carl Feldherr, also for many years, but the last time I saw her was before COVID hit town. She was a wonderful person; So full of life! She will be sorely missed!
Denise Guerin
March 4, 2021
We love you Betty, your hard work and enthusiasm were inspirational. RIP.
Tom Abel
March 1, 2021
Betty was a fantastic mentor to this "new kid" on the block at Santa Fe when I arrived there as the new biology faculty some 20 plus years ago. She was a tireless advocate for students and always was willing to come to my classes to teach them (and me) some "BASIC" modeling she had been so instrumental in designing with students in mind. Santa Fe was so lucky to have her. I was lucky to have learned so much from her and experience her tenacity.
Linda Tyson
February 28, 2021
Betty served for years on the board of directors of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. We remember her as a loving companion for Dr. Odum, as an excellent environmental educator at Santa Fe Community College, and as a dear friend of the natural world and Florida's springs. She will be sorely missed from the Earth but welcomed with loving arms in the eternal life ever after.
Bob Knight
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