Born in Chicago, IL, Betty Ann Michelozzi had the warm heart of a Midwesterner, the sense of humor and yarn-spinning gifts of her Irish forbears, and the brilliant intellect befitting the teacher, innovator, and mentor she was across her lifetime. Her life was characterized by loving service to those on the margins: people living in poverty; men serving time in prison; those experiencing housing insecurity; and teens and adults simply seeking a listening ear and sound counsel.
Betty loved poetry, which she wrote and recited from her prodigious storehouse of memory. She cherished creatures, especially felines, and tended many a kitty faithfully, with attentive care. An amateur photographer and prolific author, she pulled together her talents in cookbooks, a family history, collections of poems, and a guide to choosing a career that had a wide readership. Among Betty’s favorite songs was De Colores, which she shared with Guatemalan children and Habitat for Humanity volunteers who participated in annual building trips she and her husband led for years.
Betty was a loving partner to her husband, Peter John Michelozzi, for 53 years. She is survived by her Peter and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, as well as a host of admirers, mentees, and social justice activists who grew under her sheltering wings.
Her husband writes: “As the months progressed forward through her end time, Betty had been experiencing increasing physical challenges. So much so that she began to look forward to her entry into ‘the Tunnel’ (an expression that she took from the writings of Elizabeth Kubler Ross). And often she would request, ‘I want to go home,’ capturing the core of her death and meaning of her life.”
The theologian Paul Knitter speaks to grief in ways that pay tribute to Betty as we mourn her loss:
“Grief helps us to make sense of our lives. Instead of holding tight against the flow of life, grieving can awaken and revive us. It gets to the bottom of things - to the certainty of death, to our tenuous grip on life as we know it as a way of engaging with our existence in its fullness: we are born, we live, we age, we die. Let our grief be proof of how much we have loved, how deeply we have allowed life to live in us, how wide the river of our hearts has become.”
— Paul Knitter
Donations in Betty’s memory may be made to Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay or the National Compadres Network, for its work with men, boys, and families. Please mail a check to: National Compadres Network, 1550 The Alameda, Suite 320, San Jose, CA 95126.
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