Born in St. Johnsbury, VT on December 16, 1928, she was the daughter of Wendell Carpenter Craigie and Melissa Rose Freeman Craigie.
As a child she lived in various ports of entry along the Canadian border of Vermont where her father Wendell Craigie served as a customs inspector. In 1941 the family settled in Swanton, VT.
During her years at Swanton High School, the country was at war. Betsy did many things to help the war effort: rolling bandages, spotting for enemy planes, and joining the Civil Air Patrol. She learned to fly. She is believed to be the first woman to fly solo in the state of Vermont. She graduated in 1946, salutatorian of her class with several honors, including being named DAR girl for the state of Vermont.
In 1950 she graduated from the University of Vermont with a BA degree in psychology and went on to earn a Master's of Science in Social Administration from Case Western University, Cleveland, OH, in 1952. She earned a second master's degree in Health Services Administration from New York University in 1978.
She married Julio Vivas of Cleveland, OH, in 1951. They had two children, Craig Jay Vivas born December 28, 1955 and Melissa Mirta Vivas born May 15, 1958, both in Chicago, IL. Julio worked as a city planner in Chicago and Akron, Ohio, and then came to Poughkeepsie in 1965 to direct the Action Council of Dutchess County.
Betsy worked as a social worker - first for the Day Nursery Assoc. of Cleveland, then for the psychiatric clinic in the Chicago court system and for the Jewish Children's Bureau of Chicago. After moving to the Poughkeepsie area with her husband and children in 1965, she worked at Family Counseling Service. Later she served as the coordinator of the county executive's Children's Committee, an organization of agency directors, formed under the aegis of the county executive to assure that children did not fall through the cracks of agencies' services. In 1975 she became a program analyst for the NY Department of Mental Hygiene with responsibility for coordinating Westchester County's mental health services. In 1978 she became an assistant hospital director for Westchester Medical Center with responsibility for the department of psychiatry, administering both its inpatient and outpatient services.
Ms. Vivas was active in her professional organization, the National Association of Social Workers. She served on the board of the local chapter, then on the state board, and later on the national board and national executive committee.
She served on the board of the Voluntary Action Council, the board of the Funeral Consumers Association of the Hudson Valley, the Dutchess County Social Workers board, the Dutchess County Mental Health Board and the board of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Other voluntary contributions to the community were her service as an ombudsman to a nursing home and delivering Meals-on- Wheels. She was a member of the American Association of University Women, a member of the Hudson Valley Ski Club and The Bridge Club of the Mid-Hudson. Betsy was a congregant of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie where she served on the Committee on Ministries, the Social Justice Committee, the buildings and grounds committee, and the caring community.
Betsy's adventurous spirit led her to travel widely after her retirement from work. She trekked in the Himalayas on a three week journey in the Langtang region of Nepal. She later crossed the Peace Bridge and the Himalayas by minibus to visit Tibet, always a place of great mystery to her. She rode a camel in Tunisia for several days, sleeping on the sand of the Sahara Desert with only the stars above her for her roof. She made several trips to her ancestral home on the island of Rousay in the Orkney Islands of Scotland.
Outdoor activities and sports played an important role in Betsy's life. She enjoyed hiking, biking, swimming and skiing. She won medals in both Alpine and Nordic skiing events and she continued all of those activities into her 90's. She loved paddling on white water rivers, shooting the rapids in her kayak or canoe.
An avid bridge player, she became a life master of bridge.
She is survived by her daughter Melissa and son-in-law Jerome Kuhel who live in Brisbane. CA, her two grandchildren Joseph Wendell Kuhel of Brisbane, CA and Isabel Anya Kuhel of San Francisco and her longtime companion Michael Sadowy. Her husband Julio Vivas predeceased her in 2009. Her son Craig Jay Vivas predeceased her in 2012. She leaves cousins Ren Freeman of Edgewater, FL, Don Freeman of San Francisco, CA, a niece Lori Bender Stem of Newton. MA, nephew Howard Stem of Chappaqua, NY, nephew Richard Stem of Chicago, IL, two grandnieces Julia Bender and Leah Stern, two grandnephews Daniel Bender and Julian Stern, cousins Janice Park of Burlington, VT, and Alexander Park of Groton, MA, and daughter of her companion Michael, Stacy Sadowy and her husband Jose Rubiera, and their children Elena Rubiera and Aramis Rubiera of New York City.
A memorial service will be held at a later time.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie.
Published by Poughkeepsie Journal from May 26 to May 31, 2020.
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December 18, 2020
Melissa and family; so very sad to hear about your Mom's death. She was a remarkable lady and I know a wonderful influence to you & Craig. Craig & I were in Spackenkill schools together. Thinking of you and your loves at this difficult time.