Betty Jane Kollett, 93, a long-time resident of Mount Dessert Island, Maine and most recently a resident of Capitol City Manor in Augusta, Maine passed away peacefully on October 15, 2021, at 4 a.m. Betty was born on November 27, 1927, in Millville, Massachusetts to Melvin A. Kollet and Minnie (Stinson) Kollet.
Betty Jane Kollett was a fiercely independent and vibrant person who embraced adventure. As the seventh of eight children, Betty was deeply devoted to her parents and siblings. Her childhood was filled with outdoor experiences. Her favorite moments were times spent with her brothers climbing trees, playing horseshoes, fishing, swimming in summer, and sledding in winter. Her big sister, Muriel, was amazed at how cleverly she could disappear when it came time for her share of the household chores. Betty learned auto mechanics along side of her father. How she loved riding her horse, Lassie and playing with her Great Dane, Checkers.
Betty was an outstanding student and treasurer of her class. After graduating from Blackstone High School with high honors, Betty worked in the office of the Trixie Corporation in Millville. Later, she became an office worker at the Whitin Machine Works, where her boss told her she was far more capable of bigger and better things. This boss was instrumental in her successful pursuit of working in scientific research for Lincoln Labs at MIT and later Harvard University.
Betty was not a materialistic individual, but her 1941 Ford Super Deluxe Convertible may have been one of her most prized and memorable possessions. For the many who remember this rare classic automobile, it was shiny black with a white canvas roof, red leather interior, with large white whitewalls and moon hubcaps. By 1949, it was a castoff of her sister-in-law, but to Betty it was a ticket to experiences for which most young women of yesteryear could only dream. Betty's love for her car was not counted in years, but decades. She named it "Hepzibah" and even wrote poetry about this beloved car. Every time she drove away from home, she would honk to say goodbye. When she discovered recently that "Hepzibah" had come up for auction, Betty not only expressed disbelief in its showroom condition and value, but the memories she was able to make as an independent modern woman.
As a young adult living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Betty found friendship with her mostly male co-workers, who organized an outdoor adventure group, the "Sub Sig Corps". She and her dearest and longest friend, Ginny (Wilkie) Mills joined these adventurous men for hiking, camping, mountain climbing, and other out-door adventures. It was during a camping trip that she met her now former husband, Franklin Braley of Bangor, Maine. Betty's love of nature and animals continued throughout her life. She enjoyed snowmobiling on her farm in Winterport, Maine and later, as a year-round resident of Mount Dessert Island, she worked with the horses at the Acadia National Park Stables.
Mount Dessert Island, famous as a place of majestic, natural beauty, has a microcosm of interdependent year-round residents. Betty found a home amongst these hardy islanders that she called family. As a community, they help each other when in need and enjoy fellowship during the long, dark winters. Betty made friends easily with her quick wit and out-stretched helping hand. As an active member of The Southwest Harbor Congregational Church, she was a deeply devoted Christian, possessing great knowledge of the Bible, as evidenced through her endeavors in Bible Study and Christian Education. Betty was devoted to helping her church, her friends, her neighbors, and the greater-island family. She was an Acadia National Park volunteer at the Abbe Museum for Maine's Native People.
Betty is the last of her generation preceded in death by her five bothers and two sisters, William "Gene"or "Bill" Kollet, Muriel (Kollet) Graves, Robert Kollet, Melvin "Bub" Kollet, Jr., Roberta "Gwen" (Kollet) Haas, Kenneth "Boots" Kollet, and Richard "Newt" or "Dick" Kollet.
Auntie Betty, to her eleven nieces and nephews, was always full of fun and adventure. She would spontaneously join them in a game of hide-and-seek, give rides in her antique convertible, or launch into verse-after-verse of camp songs. Betty would join her extended family, which included her parents, most of her adult siblings, and most all of her nieces and nephews, for family camping. Camping with Auntie Betty was not only fun, but was packed with unexpected and unforgettable experiences that everyone still laughs about to this day. Nightly campfire songs were a family tradition, and Betty knew them all. When traveling there would be squabbling about whose turn it was to ride in the back seat of Auntie Betty's car. No one remembers the scenery, but the stream of songs she taught them has lasted a life-time. She is survived by nieces and nephews, Bonnie (Graves) Wilder, Bradford Graves, Brenda (Graves) Alexander, Kathleen (Kollet) Tonelli, Grant Kollet, Ronald Kwiatkowski, Karen (Kollet) Limanek, and Melanie Kollet-Smith and pre-deceased by nephews, Edward Kwiatkowski, Jr., Gary Kollet, and Kenneth Kollet, Jr. Additionally, Betty has 18 grandnieces and grandnephews,13 great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews, and 5 great-great-grandnieces and great-great-grandnephews.
Betty taught herself to read at age 4, and her love of words remained with her until her last days. In high school she won a competitive spelling bee. An enormous dictionary was her prize, which she cherished her whole life. She volunteered as a trained adult educator in the field of adult literacy. Betty pursued her love of words as an avid letter writer, competitive Scrabble player, and crossword puzzler well into her 90's. As Betty faded in her last days, not only were her memories of her marvelous childhood still vividly clear, she continued with crossword puzzles and spelling and defining words with the utmost accuracy. In one of her last moments, Betty spelled and defined the 45 letter word: Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.
Calling hours will be at Carr Funeral Home, 24 Hill Street, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, on October 30, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. followed by a short memorial service. Interment will be November 1, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. at Slatersville Cemetery, North Smithfield, Rhode Island. In lieu of flowers please make donations to Southwest Harbor Congregational Church, 29 High Road, Southwest Harbor, Maine 04679.
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