Elizabeth Grace Royce

On March 18, 2018, Bette Royce eased out of this life. Bette was born in McCook, Nebraska, October 19, 1925 to Charlotte Coolidge Royce and Wilfred Alexis Royce. Her father was an electrical engineer, and his work took the family, which also included her older brother Bill, to Santa Marta, Colombia for three years, from 1927 to 1930, and later Mexico City, where her younger brother Bob was born, and where they lived for the next six years.

In 1936, the family moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey, for two years, until they left to go to Ripon, Wisconsin, where her father helped develop Barlow and Seelig Corporation, manufacturers of washers and dryers. The company was later renamed Speed Queen.

Bette attended school in Ripon and finished high school at Downer Seminary in Milwaukee, then attended Ripon College for two years before transferring to Middlebury College in Vermont, where she received her B.A. in Spanish in 1946 and Masters in Spanish in 1963.

After graduation, Bette taught Spanish at Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin for two years; and then spent two years working for the Organization of American States in Washington DC. She worked in the publishing field for a time in Madison, Wisconsin and later Denver, Colorado. Eventually, the lure of teaching returned, and she taught Spanish and French at East High School and then George Washington High School in Denver, where she worked until her retirement in 1985.

During her teaching years, she participated on national committees to develop the S.A.T. and A.P. exams in Spanish. She also was thrilled to be among the first non-government Westerners invited to join an educators’ tour of Communist China in 1978. Bette was awarded a Colorado Distinguished Teacher award in 1983.

Summers were Bette’s travel times, and she ventured to every continent and dozens of countries. She shared her love of travel with her parents, brothers and their families all of whom were invited as companions, whether it was a drive into Colorado’s mountains or a cruise on the Danube. She adorned her apartment with an eclectic collection of souvenirs from every country and each could spark a story. Her most recent excursion was to Hawaii at the age of 89 and 11 months for her grand-nephew’s wedding. She also loved to spend as much time as possible at her parents’ home on Green Lake, Wisconsin, a spot she often described as the “most beautiful place in the world.”

A genealogist and avid photographer of her family, Bette also documented her travels in detailed albums that affirmed a continuing love of history. In retirement, she had more time to pursue her loves of anthropology and archeology. She volunteered at what was then called the Denver Museum of Natural History and enjoyed their organized tours. She also studied Mayan glyphs and joined archeology digs in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras where her Spanish translation skills and cultural knowledge made her a valuable team member. Bette donated her travel albums to the Special Collections & Archives of the Davis Family Library at Middlebury College where they will be catalogued, preserved and available for study.

Added to Bette's many talents were crochet, knitting, needlework and cross-stitch. She also collected antique music boxes, antique china and pattern glass. She delighted in sharing her own crafts and in discovering how these arts connected many world cultures through the ages. Not to be pigeon-holed, Bette also knew her way around the agricultural analytics of the annual Denver Stock Show and the statistics of professional sports, especially the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers!

Bette understood the importance of family and family connections. She believed in the power of sharing a meal and appreciated perfectly flavored, well-prepared cuisine. She adored news of her family’s activities and if she didn’t have recent news, she would do the calling, often when her call recipients were sitting down to dinner-- naturally.

Elizabeth, “Bette,” “Betts,” or “Betsy” – she wouldn’t correct what you called her. With her varied careers and activities, the name you used would help her identify how she knew you. And, chances were you would become friends if you weren’t already. When honored by the Denver Public Schools for the Colorado Distinguished Teacher award, Bette was praised as “A superb teacher by instinct and dedication; interested in students as persons as well as scholars, displaying patience and understanding” – a fitting description of how she lived her whole life.

Bette was predeceased by her parents, and her brothers Wilfred (Bill) A. Royce, Jr., and Robert (Bob) C. Royce and a nephew James W. Royce. Celebrating her life and mourning her passing are sisters-in-law Marcia S. Royce-Ash of San Antonio, Texas, and Nancy P. Royce of Ripon, Wisconsin; nephews Richard S. (Vicki) Royce of Austin, Texas, and Jonathan P. (Suzanne) Royce of Timnath, Colorado; and nieces Susan R. (Elbert) Hardin of Walla Walla, Washington, and JoAnn R. (James) Cahillane of Lenox Dale, Massachusetts; as well as her cousin Beverly C. (Eugene) Shaw of Boulder, Colorado, and numerous grand-nieces, grand-nephews and cousins.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday April 27 at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, 2425 Colorado Avenue, Boulder, CO 80302. Graveside services will be at the convenience of the family in Ripon, WI.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (memorial ID#11259394; 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105) or the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (https://secure1.dmns.org/donate-to-the-museum?Donation=25).

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