Betsy Brown Heath Gleason, 87, of Middlebury


MIDDLEBURY — Betsy Brown Heath Gleason, 87, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on Friday, April 19, 2024, in Middlebury, Vt.

Betsy is the daughter of the late Winford Eddy Heath and the late Dorothy Helen Brown Heath. She was born in Bound Brook, N.J., on Nov. 19, 1936, spent her childhood years in Somerville, N.J., and Ship Bottom, N.J., and graduated from Somerville High School in 1954. She was an avid dancer from an early age and was at her happiest on any stage.

She attended Middlebury College in a long line of family who also attended Middlebury, including her sister, Ann Miner Heath Fay (’54), her mother (’18), father (’21), uncle (’29), grandfather (’93), and great uncle (’93). At Middlebury College her love of dance and music and her gregarious personality earned her a spot on the football and basketball cheerleading squads. She graduated in 1958 as a certified elementary school teacher with a BA degree in Fine Arts.

As an upperclassman, Betsy met her future husband, Robert Willard Gleason, who graduated from Middlebury College in 1954 and stayed on campus to earn a master’s degree in chemistry in 1956. Betsy and Bob were married in Somerville, N.J., in 1958. Betsy taught elementary school in Melrose, Mass., while Bob completed his Ph.D. degree in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1960, Bob accepted a one-year teaching position at Middlebury College; he and Betsy returned to Middlebury and “the college on the hill” where Bob continued to teach for an additional 33 years.

Betsy thrived in various positions within the town and college communities, including as an elementary school teacher, an instructor with the Middlebury College Elementary Education Program for Practice Teaching, the original director of the Addison County Counseling Service Day Treatment Program, and the Alumni/Development Officer for Middlebury College’s 25th and 50th Reunion Programs. She was involved in numerous volunteer activities benefiting her children’s schools as well as her church, Porter Hospital, and local dance and theater organizations. Her proudest volunteer achievements were as co-chair (with Bob) of the Addison County United Way campaign and serving in leadership roles supporting the multi-year Middlebury College Bicentennial celebration, including the Bicentennial Hall science facility capital campaign.

Betsy will be remembered for her infectious smile, her cheerful enthusiasm, her “can-do” spirit, her boundless energy, her bold sense of adventure, her love of hiking and camping, her passion for music and dance, her childlike excitement for every holiday, her joy in being with her extended family, her love of the Jersey shore, her endless pride in all things Middlebury College, her excellence as a grandmother, and her adoration for all animals, especially her many golden retrievers.

Betsy is predeceased by both her parents, her brother Richard E. Heath and his wife Beth M. Heath, and her sister Ann H. Fay. She is survived by her husband of 65 and a half years, Bob; her sister’s husband Charles B. Fay (Middlebury ’54); her three children, Nancy G. Simms, recently of Dover, Mass., and currently of South Walpole, Mass., Amy G. Barrett and her husband Bill of Concord, Mass., and Mark H. Gleason and his wife Shannon of Salisbury, Vt.; and her nine grandchildren, Britty and her husband Corey, Max and his wife Merrill, Robert, Caroline, Allie and her husband Dennis, Lizzie, Andrew, Catherine, and Abby.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 11, at 11 a.m. at the Congregational Church of Middlebury at 2 Main Street, Middlebury. A luncheon reception following the service will be hosted by the family for all guests at the Middlebury College Kirk Alumni Center at the Ralph Myhre Golf Course, 317 Golf Course Road, Middlebury.

Contributions in Betsy’s memory may be made to: the Middlebury College Chapel Fund, Middlebury College Office of Advancement, 700 Exchange Street, Middlebury, VT 05753; The Congregational Church of Middlebury (address above); Homeward Bound, Addison County’s Humane Society, 236 Boardman Street, Middlebury, VT 05753, or any charity of one’s choice. ◊


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