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Betty May Brooks

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Betty May BROOKS Dec. 20, 1921 ~ Feb. 12, 2011 While living in Port Angeles, Wash., Betty Brooks hosted a weekly radio show during which she played organ music on her Hammond from her living room. Every show began and ended with Betty playing Debussy's 'Clair De Lune,' her theme. On Saturday, Feb. 12, her mother's birthday, Betty, 89, passed away reluctantly at Richmond Beach Rehabilitation Center in Seattle while the sounds of 'Clair De Lune' played on the Arts channel, fittingly performed by a female organist on a Parisian pipe organ. A professional organist, Betty died one week after suffering a massive stroke in her apartment at the home of her daughter. Born Betty May Harris in Bremerton on Dec. 20, 1921, Betty was raised in Port Angeles. Her father, Orville ran a sheet metal shop on Front Street. Her mother, Rhea Meister Harris was a God-fearing homemaker and Sunday school teacher/superintendent who loved baseball and Hitchcock movies. Betty attended Port Angeles High School, graduating in 1939. She lived in Port Angeles until 1962 when the family moved to Magnolia in Seattle. She was the wife of the late Jonathan Perry Brooks (1922-2007), and of the late EugeneM. Nye (1920-1977) and of the late George Lester Northup (1917- 1996). She was the sister of the late John Raymond Harris (1919-1993). A professional organist throughout her life, Betty studied the pipe organ, taught private lessons, played for church and played for funerals. Upon her move to Seattle, she became organist at First United Methodist Church in downtown and later was the organist of the First Church of Christ Scientist on Capitol Hill. She was also a member and organist at the Bothell Church of Christ Scientist for many years. At the time of her death, she was a member of the University Temple United Methodist Church. Betty was proud of being THE first member of the Methodist Church in Port Angeles, Wash. Her father was instrumental in the construction of the church. The family raised money for the pipe organ, which she played as church organist. At age 66, she set out to complete a dream: She enrolled at Shoreline Community College. At 71 she earned her AA degree and was accepted to the University of Washington. She declined to study music, her greatest strength. 'I already know that,' she said, 'I want to earn a degree in something new.' In 1998 at age 76 Betty earned her BA in English - and quite a celebration ensued, with family coming from around the country to lift sparkling cider in her honor. She continued to talk of earning her masters and applied to University of Washington and Western Washington University. Betty is survived by her son Brent Northup of Helena, Mont. and her daughter Wendy Barone of Lynnwood, Wash.; her granddaughter Gina Barone Simmons of Chicago; and her granddaughter Katherine Northup of Helena, Mont. She is also survived by Jonathan's three daughters, Carol VanDuyne of Renton, Diane Lohof of Camarillo, Calif, and Janet Knispel of Calabasas, Calif. A memorial service of pipe organ music will be held on Saturday, March 12, at 2:00 p.m. at University Temple United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Northwest Hospital Foundation, Seattle, Wash. Betty is buried at Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, Washington. Her marker reads, in part: Betty May Brooks, 1921-2011. Our Amazing Mom. UW, Class of '98.
Published in The Seattle Times on Mar. 6, 2011
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