Elizabeth C. “Betsy” Roak
Elizabeth C. Roak, known to her friends as Betsy, and Buzzy to her grandchildren, passed away on January 1, 2020. She was the beloved wife of the late Robert H. Roak, who passed away on December 30,2019. They lived their lives fully and inspired in the service of others and shared their love of family, country and church with all of us. They just celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. Betsy was born in Philadelphia on July 2, 1942, she was the daughter of Harrison H. Clement and Maida W. Clement. She had two siblings, a brother Harrison H. Clement Jr. and a sister who predeceased her, Maida C. Dent. Her early education was at the Agnes Irwin School and the Madeira School in McLean, Virginia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Education from Chestnut Hill College. Subsequently, she earned a Master’s degree with a concentration in Native American Studies from Wesleyan University. She was loyal, energetic, and always open to adventure especially if it involved Jakie, whom she married in 1963. His pursuit of self-fulfillment became her pursuit and together they chased dreams, across the country and across the pond. She saw the possibilities and opportunities inherent in every situation. She embraced change, experienced different cultures, forged friendships, learned foreign languages, climbed many mountains, and shared new experiences all while proudly raising three children. She was a pillar of strength who supported her husband, her family, and was always there for anyone in need. Professionally she was a teacher, administrator, and advisor, who built her academic and leadership credentials through extraordinary determination. She began her teaching career at Springside School, then onto St. Barnabas, Germantown. After moving to Connecticut she worked in admissions at the The Hotchkiss School, was the interim head of the Town Hill School, and the head of the middle school at Indian Mountain. As the head of the Rudd Reading Center at the Salisbury School and then as a learning specialist at the Baldwin School she was passionate about helping young struggling readers. Betsy infused everything she did with a soul of abundance, mission, and self-renewal. So rather than retire Betsy opted to ‘re-pot’ herself. Inspired by a friend, she wanted to complete a 550 mile trek on the Camino de Santiago. She dragged Jake into training and then off to Bilboa, Spain. Forty-three days later they arrived at the magnificent cathedral, Santiago de Compostella. Invigorated by their pilgrimage she joined Jake in retirement, enjoying free time with her family and friends, and doing good for others. Betsy’s abundant energy and diverse interests are reflected in charities she supported. She served on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Church, where she was a parishioner for almost 50 years. She taught at the Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard after school program and volunteered at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. She joined the board of directors of Face to Face, a multi-faceted social service organization in Germantown and The Female Association, which provides monetary relief to needy older women. Most recently she was very committed to successfully resettling refugees from the Republic of Congo. Betsy loved spending time connecting her extended family and was a bit of a family historian. She talked a lot, telling stories and laughing with her many friend groups including the Forget Me Nots. She never let facts get in the way of a good story but that was her charm. She was busy and often could be found donning a wetsuit to brave Maine’s chilly waters, walking everywhere, biking, playing tennis, taking up golf, reading a good book, quilting, enjoying time with her grandchildren, documenting events on her I-phone 5c and most of all delighting in life, side by side with ‘Lovie’. Together they advanced a family legacy and made a huge difference in the lives of their children and grandchildren. They will be missed. Betsy was a loving Mother to Christopher (Amy) Roak, Jennifer (Bruce) Edgerton, and Lisa (Michael) Budd and grandmother of Maddie Roak, Liv Roak, Rob Roak, Brodie Edgerton, Isabel Edgerton, Merrick Edgerton, Maida Budd, Charlie Budd and Patrick Budd. Relatives and friends are invited to Jake and Betsy’s Memorial Service, Friday January 10th at 2pm at St Paul’s Episcopal Church, 22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19118 and a reception in honor of Jake and Betsy following the service. Memorial gifts in honor of Betsy may be made to Face to Face Germantown, 123 E. Price Street, Philadelphia, PA
Betsy will always be a bright shining light. The many times we shared with Betsy, Jake, Chris, Jenny and Lisa when we were all younger will forever and always be a warm camp fire for me. Love you guys.
Betsy blessed us all with a smile that could light up a room. As we live so far away, there weren’t many visits, yet she was a treasured friend and cousin. May wonderful memories of two special souls bring comfort to Christopher, Jenny and Lisa and their families.
A beautiful tribute to a special and beautiful woman. To know Betsy was a delight. Her charm and good humor was captivating, and the loving relationship with Jake was inspiring.
When I think of Betsy I think immediately of her marvelous voice and her hearty laugh. Betsy exuded a warmth that touched everyone she came into contact with. Betsy’s acts of service were unknown to me but come as no surprise in their shared qualities of acceptance and inclusion.
Although I didn’t know Jake as well, I believe that the profession of teaching allows a person to touch so many young lives by offering guidance and direction.
I know that Betsy and Jake’s children and grandchildren have a hole in their hearts and I hope that you can all draw comfort from one another through shared stories and memories of a truly happy couple who parented, loved and celebrated life with zeal.
You are all in my prayers,
I have such very fond memories of your mom and dad from our PW days and team party at their home. Your mom was always so positive and with wonderful smile on her face. The apple didn’t fall far did it?!
I am so very sorry for the sudden loss of both your beloved parents in such a short time. But just think what heaven has gained!! One day, you’ll all have a grand reunion with them.
Praying for you all…
Dear Chris, Jenny and Lisa, we send our deepest sypathies to you all. Soon after the some how shocking news of the death of your prents and our friends leaped into view so many of the extraordinary memories we could share with you and your parents fo over 50 years. We still feel honorated to have been friends with Betsy and Jake. We will think of you always. Greetings with all our hearts. Cilly and Johannes and all Kids.
I was deeply saddened to learn of Betsy and Jake’s passing. I never had the pleasure of meeting Jake, but I remember Betsy speaking fondly about their trips and adventures. Betsy was an amazing colleague to work with during my years at the Baldwin School. As a member of our support team she brought warmth, compassion and an incredible understanding of the challenges and strengths that students had, as they grew in academic and social skills. She was wise, deeply caring and a very sensible problem solver.. We all loved her laughter and her positive spirit. Her smile brightened everyone’s day! I extend my deepest sympathy to you, her family.
Oh wow. What a life! I remember the woman I knew as “Mrs. Roak” as a warm, kind, and mischievous woman. I am so sorry that she is no longer with us, though grateful to have made her acquaintance many years ago, and amazed by all that she accomplished in her time on earth. I’m not sure I’ve met a person quite so “other oriented” or giving as Mrs. Roak so clearly was.
I still can’t believe that Betsy is no longer with us….so sad….so unreal.
I remember her as an energetic, adventurous, positive, courageous, strong and bubbly person with the most infectious laugh.
She seemed fearless, tireless.
Spending time with her never got boring.
I am grateful for having met her and she will certainly live
on in my memories…..there are plenty !
My deepest regrets to The Wonderful Three ( Lisa, Jen and Chris )
and their families.
Your parents were unique, inspiring, unforgettable .