St. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Elizabeth Joan "Betty" McLeod, age 83, of St. Petersburg, Florida, passed away on Friday, June 23, 2017, at Westminster Suncoast, with her partner, Jane, and many friends close at hand when she died in her sleep. Much loved and widely admired, she was proud of her military service, her Scottish heritage, her Vermont roots, and her marriage to Jane States Kelly.
Born in Barre, Vermont, on April 23, 1934, to Rebecca Sybil Houston and William Alexander McLeod, Betty grew up in the Barre-Montpelier area of Vermont. She attended a two-room schoolhouse in her early years, graduated from Montpelier High School, attended Bates College and received her bachelor's degree from Boston University.
A veteran of the United States Navy, Betty attended the Officer's Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and, upon completion, received her commission as an ensign (USN) in 1956. She served on active duty until 1961 and as a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve until 1970.
After active duty, Betty worked in the Boston area as a marketing director and technical writer for several companies. She was the first paid employee of LifeLine, and worked for several high-tech firms. After several years in Boston, Betty returned to Vermont and bought a house in Stowe and later a condominium in Morrisville. Her last job before retirement was with Karl Suss America, a micro-technology company in Waterbury, where she worked in marketing and edited their technical newsletters, retiring as chief administrative assistant in 1997.
For many years, Betty resided in Vermont. The McLeods are a deeply rooted Vermont family, proud of their Scottish heritage. An athlete in her youth, Betty was an avid downhill and cross-country skier. In college, she took up tennis and later played competitively as "Ladies" tennis integrated, traveling with black roommates. She once played against Althea Gibson. Later in life, Betty continued to enjoy traveling. As a member of RVing Women, she met Jane Kelly.
Betty and Jane joined their lives on June 22, 1997. Later, when same-sex relationships were recognized by the state of Vermont, Betty joined Jane States Kelly in their civil union on Sept. 8, 2001, in Waterbury. When same-sex marriages were made legal in Florida, they were married on April 11, 2015, at the United Church of Christ at The Villages.
Betty and Jane shared 20 happy years. During their first eight years together, in winter, they traveled the country in Big Baby, a 32-foot Bounder motor home, visiting all 48 contiguous states plus Alaska and Mexico. Betty and Jane became frequent National Parks volunteers at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, Aransas National Wildlife and Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuges in Texas. They traveled 85,000 miles, accompanied by their fellow traveler, Cody (cat, now 18 years old). In 2005, they made their way to Florida to buy a new RV, but ended up with a house instead. At The Villages, they enjoyed golf and made many new friends. Almost three years ago, they moved to Westminster Suncoast, a continuing care community run by the Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg, where Betty died.
Betty is survived by her partner of 20 years, Jane States Kelly; brother Robert McLeod and wife, Norma; niece Julia Garufi and husband, Roger; nephew Stephen McLeod and wife, Jodi; three great-nieces; a great-nephew; three stepsons, William (Randy Billman) Kelly, John (Martha Kaplan) Kelly, and Patrick (Maria) Kelly; and four step-grandchildren. The family thanks the Suncoast Health Center staff for their loving care of Betty.
There will be a celebration of life gathering in the lounge at Westminster Suncoast, 1095 Pinellas Point Drive South in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Friday, July 21, at 1 p.m. ET. Flowers are welcome or donations in memory of Elizabeth Joan McLeod to North Country Animal League https://www.ncal.com/donate-online/
(3524 Laporte Road, Morristown, VT 05661) are appreciated by the family. Please visit Betty's online guestbook at www.andersonmcqueen.com