Elizabeth (Bette) Longwell Timbers passed peacefully into the next life on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. She celebrated her 101st birthday in May. Bette was a long-time seasonal, and later, year-round resident of Nantucket, having purchased property on Polpis Road with her husband Robert (Bob) Timbers in 1971.
Bette was always a very good athlete. In the early ‘30s, she played basketball at Edgewood Park Junior College in Greenwich, CT. Later, she was known as a fun and very competitive tennis player. She was a member at Sankaty Head Golf Club and also played at the Cliffside Tennis Club. During the 80’s winters, she played her tennis at Boca West in Boca Raton, FL and before then, in the 60s and 70’s, played paddle and golf at the Country Club of Darien, CT. Most people would be surprised to learn that in her last Sankaty Bowl Tennis Tournament, she was 90 years young, and was honored for participating in all fifteen Sankaty Bowls up to that point.
Bette also loved the Lord, and her Christian involvement was year-round and lifelong. On Nantucket, she was a regular attendee at the Summer Street Church. She was an active member of St Paul's Episcopal Church in Darien, CT in the '70s and of Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, FL from the '80s to 2010. Her prayers were always vocal and heart-felt. Bette was outgoing and friendly, always interested in people’s lives and their families’ lives. Bette has been a strong Christian role model for her 5 children, 15 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Her daughter, Beverly, cared for Bette for many years at Sherburne Commons, and for the last two years in California, her granddaughters, Allison Bryant and more recently, Carrie Stambaugh, were her devoted caregivers.
Bette married Bob in December 1942 in the Cadet Chapel at West Point, where Mr. Timbers was the Military Academy’s first-ever Registrar. Their first four children were born at West Point: Beverly (Stambaugh), Robert, Terri (McKendree), and Gail (Reinemund). Deborah (Youngerman) was born in Bethesda, MD.
Bette was the youngest of six children. Her oldest brother, Benton Elkins Longwell Jr., became a third generation surgeon/doctor, and Bette worked in his and her father’s Johnstown practice for several years. Her twin brother, James Cooper Longwell, graduated from MIT in the 1930’s as a nuclear engineer and designed many of the nuclear power plants in Scandinavia. Bette had one sister, Margaret Proudfoot, and two other brothers, Craig and Robert.
The Longwell family originated in Gettysburg, PA. Bette’s grandfather, Dr. Robert Hamilton Longwell, served as an Army doctor/surgeon in Philadelphia during the Civil War. Later posted to Cimarron, NM where, in addition to being the Fort physician, he was appointed by President Lincoln to handle Indian affairs in the region. Post-Army, he moved to Santa Fe, NM where he was a noted surgeon/doctor and justice of the peace. Bette’s father, Benton Elkins Longwell, was born in Santé Fe, attended Stanford University, and became a doctor/surgeon and established his practice in Johnstown, PA.
It is hard to fathom the history that Bette experienced from 1916 to 2017: eighteen presidents, five huge wars, the devastating Johnstown floods, and tremendous advances in technology. No problem for Bette. She always handled life with optimism, style and grace. She is already missed.
The funeral service will take place at Summer Street Church on Nantucket on Sunday, August 27 at 1:00 PM. Donations may be made in honor of Elizabeth Timbers to Summer Street Church, 4 Trotters Lane, Nantucket, MA 02554.