Betsey June (Winslow) Converse, 90, of Marion, died October 27, 2023 at home. She was the wife of the late Norman A. Converse, Jr.
Born in Fall River on February 3, 1933, she was the daughter of Edwin C. and Effie L. Winslow of Mattapoisett. She loved to tell the story of her adoption by the two best parents she could ever have dreamed of.
Growing up in Mattapoisett, Betsey attended Center School, and graduated from Fairhaven High School. She made life long friends during these years. Her cheerful and agreeable nature, humor, outgoing personality, winning smile, and bright blue eyes engaged her with everyone she met throughout her life.
She was drawn to a quiet and interesting young man named Norman Converse, who was the older brother of her “BFF”, Muriel (Converse) Walker, and they were married in 1951. She was 18 years old when they embarked upon what would be a 70-year commitment to each other, and included many adventures of a simple life based upon raising a family, a love of nature, music, friends, camping, hiking, and sailing.
Together, they spent close to 40 summers on a tidal cove in downeast Maine, where they built a little cottage and created an off the grid lifestyle, making new friends, tending their garden, exploring Washington County’s lakes, streams and ponds for fishing, swimming, and good picnic spots. Their family loved visiting, camping out with them, sitting around the campfire, star gazing, having great meals (yes, she made a good soup!) and listening to Betsey playing the piano.
Betsey was an accomplished pianist. She began taking lessons at an early age and quickly found a natural aptitude and talent. She studied throughout her teen years with renowned concert pianist and teacher, Madame Lily Dumont of New Bedford, MA, and became a popular teacher herself, giving lessons from home and also at Tabor Academy. Besides teaching piano, she taught for several years at The Loft School in Marion. Later in life, she returned to her studies with Madame Dumont, and her playing improved even more as she participated in Master classes at the Longy School of Music in Boston, and at SMU, and renewed her relationship with the teacher who adored her from her childhood.
Her family encouraged her to keep playing through her last few years as she struggled somewhat with dementia. She might not have been able to retrieve the words she wanted to say, but she could sit at the piano and decipher those “funny little black marks on the page” and express herself through her music.
We were able to bring her to Maine for one last visit to her camp this past August, and our pictures from that trip show her beaming with delight in every one. We are grateful that we were able to care for her in her own home, in familiar surroundings, with her piano, her loving neighbors, and with her daughters who were able to be by her side and share the last few years of her life with the mother who was a best friend to each one.
Betsey had “done all she wanted to do” in life, was happy and grateful for everything, and was loved by all. She was ready to go be with her parents, and Norman, and we can only imagine all the friends she made over her long life greeting her somewhere with joy. And if any of that is true, it’s comforting to think of her greeting us again someday, too.
She is survived by three daughters, Sara C. Fraley (and spouse Frederick) of Mount Desert, Maine; Amy L. Converse of Ellsworth, Maine; and Pearl A. Converse of Wareham, MA; four grandchildren, Faith M. Penney of Charlotte, NC; Rowan C. Fraley of Mount Desert, Maine; Zephyr Converse (and spouse Al) of Fitchburg, MA, and Adam B. Fraley of Trenton, Maine; also her Converse brothers and sisters in law: Muriel C. Walker, Mark (and Hilary) Converse, Marshall (and Maria) Converse, Celeste (and Ray) Sylvia, Corinne Fisher, Christine Cummings, and Kent (and Nancy) Converse, and many nieces and nephews on this side of the family. She leaves behind a close-knit neighborhood of devoted friends (you know who you are!), and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love of our mother, your friendships and your support.
Burial will be at Cushing Cemetery in Mattapoisett, and a private gathering will be held in Celebration of Betsey at a later date. Condolences and remembrances may be shared online at Donaghy-Hathaway Funeral Home, New Bedford, MA.