Betty H. Jamison

April 16, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Betty Jamison in 2005.
Submitted photo

Betty Hoffman Jamison's life might not have been easy, but you'd never know by talking to her. She wasn't one to complain.

Born in 1925 in the Pinesburg area of Williamsport, Betty grew up with two sisters — two brothers died as infants.

The Hoffman family lived in a house without running water until Betty was 5, when they moved to a new home with all the modern conveniences on Williamsport Pike.

Her only surviving sister, Ruby Byers of Hagerstown, said the girls walked a mile and a half each way to school every day and in bad weather rode the trolley, which cost 8 cents each way.

Betty learned the value of hard work, whether it was working in the garden, preparing homecooked meals or canning the bounty of the garden.

"I had a fetish for applesauce. She made 50 quarts yearly for me," said son, Steve Bloom.

"When we got married, she came to our house to show me how to make Steve's applesauce," said Steve's wife, Pam Bloom.

Betty's remembered for her fried chicken, lasagna and canned goods, to name a few.

"So many of her recipes have been shared with the grandchildren," Pam said.

Betty also enjoyed leisure time, whether doing jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, bowling, reading or doing other hobbies.

"Her fingers never stopped. She loved to crochet afghans for all the women in the family and all the grandchildren," said Ruby, 88, who was the middle sister.

Betty had seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with two great-grandchildren on the way.

"She was a wonderful, wonderful grandmother to our children," Pam said.

Church was important to the Hoffmans, and Betty was active at their church, Williamsport United Methodist, until she got married.

She was baptized twice, once as an infant at The Little Brown Church in the Vale in Nashua, Iowa — known through the hymn "The Church in the Wildwood" — when the family was visiting relatives there.

Then, in keeping with her church's tradition, Betty was baptized at the Williamsport church at age 12.

"She was a Christian woman. We walked together for Sunday school and church every Sunday. It was very important for our family," recalled her daughter, Cindy Beaman.

'A very selfless person'

A 1943 graduate of Williamsport High School, Betty married her high school sweetheart four years after she finished high school.

Betty and Myron L. Bloom Jr. were married for 13 years and had three children before his death at age 35. The children were ages 3, 5 and 10, when their mother became a single parent.

"It was tragic for her. She had to raise three children by herself. She was a very selfless person," Cindy said.

They continued to live in a house on the property of the elder Myron, where Betty lived until she remarried.

"We had a good childhood in St. James with ponies, and where you could ride your bike everywhere. There were lots of children to play with," Cindy said.

"She didn't make much money. She just did the best she could. We had a huge garden and kept a butchered cow in the freezer."

Steve was known as the mischievous child and now regrets all the times Betty had to come to the principal's office because of him.

"Not having a father growing up made us stronger people. She never had money to give us," Steve said.

Both Betty's and Myron's father were involved in politics and the family joked about them being on opposite sides of the fence. Joseph Hoffman was a Republican and a Washington County commissioner, and Myron L. Bloom Sr. was a Democrat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Upon her marriage to Myron Jr., Betty joined his church, St. James Brethren. She was very active for most of her adult life, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school and serving as church secretary and a deaconess.

Fond memories

Many of those who packed the funeral home for Betty's viewing and funeral shared fond memories of her, including stories of her harmonizing in church, whether she was up singing with the choir or sitting in the congregation.  

"She was a wonderful singer. How she added to the choir," said Pam.

Prior to her first marriage, Betty worked for four years at Cushwa Brick as a secretary. She returned to work to support her family once her youngest child, Cindy, was in school, working as the secretary to the headmaster at St. James School from 1961 to 1980.

"They loved her so much," Ruby said.

In 1970, Betty married Harvey Jamison, whom she met at church. Cindy was going into high school when Betty remarried, and they moved to Harvey's house on Downsville Pike.

Cindy was the only one of the three children to go to college and never returned home after going away to college. She now lives in Vienna, Va., and works in Fairfax County, Va. schools.

World traveler

Upon her retirement, Betty and Harvey traveled extensively, visiting all 50 states, the Holy Land, Ireland and 10 other countries. Harvey died in 1999.

Ruby, who called her sister daily, smiles as she recalls a trip she took with just her sister.

"She and I went to Disney (World) and rode all the rides," Ruby said.

Betty's daily walks on Downsville Pike kept her in shape for her travels. When the family vacationed in Ocean City, Md., when the grandchildren were younger, Betty would push the children in the stroller down the boardwalk.

"That stroller had a lot of miles on it," said oldest son, Myron L. Bloom III.

Betty lived with diabetes for many years and was proud that one of her diabetic cookie recipes was published in The Herald-Mail in December, 1993.

Her vision began diminishing about eight years ago, and she gave up driving. But she didn't give up her love for books, continuing to listen to books on tape.

Betty's health really began failing about two years ago, and the last six months of her life she spent in a nursing home, where she got the medical care she needed, along with companionship.

"She loved to play bingo and get her hair done at the nursing home. She never complained. She always accepted her fate," Ruby said.

Pam said Betty reassured her family as her health deteriorated.

"She said, 'If something happens to me, do not be sad. Be happy for me, because I'll be where I want to be'," Pam recounted.

"She told us she wanted to be with our daddy," Steve said.

"She didn't fear death and knew she was going to a better place," Myron said.


Editor's note:  Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs "A Life Remembered." Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Betty H. Jamison, who died April 6, 2011, at the age of 85. Her obituary was published in the April 8, 2011, edition of The Herald-Mail.

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