Elizabeth Jane (Betty) Husted

Date of Birth

August 21st, 1923

Date of Death

December 6th, 2013

Memorial Meeting

Missoula Friends Meeting


Elizabeth Jane”Betty” Husted of Missoula, Montana, died Friday December 6, 2013, at St. Patrick Hospital after a short illness.

Betty was born August 21, 1923, in Cambridge, Mass., and graduated from high school in Waltham, Mass, in 1941. She completed her RN training at Mount Auburn Hospital in 1944. She began a long nursing career in service to others, mostly focused on mental health. She married Ralph S. Newell in 1945. They were divorced in 1964. She married Paul M. Husted in 1966.

Her professional career included nursing at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. In 1972 she left hospital nursing to serve broader community mental health needs. She and Paul established a halfway facility in their home in Salem, N.H, to assist men and women released from mental health facilities in finding employment and transitioning into society. The work was hard, the need overwhelming and the satisfaction priceless.

In 1976, Betty and Paul “retired” to Peaks Island, Maine. But Betty's sense of service to others called her to work in a shelter for battered women in Portland. This required a daily ferry ride from Peaks Island to downtown Portland, not a trip for the fainthearted, in the middle of a Maine winter. But the need was great and equaled only by Betty's sense of social obligation to help society's less fortunate.

Subsequently, the New England winters took their toll and Betty and Paul retired yet again to the warmth of Port St. Lucie, Fla., where they were active in promoting world peace and nuclear disarmament. Betty never shied away from big issues but lived her life based upon the motto,”Think globally and act locally.” 

Eventually, the Florida summers became too much for Betty and Paul. Having become familiar with Missoula through visiting her son Alan, they retired yet again and moved to Missoula. While she was a New England gal by birth and loved the sea coast, she truly loved Montana.

Betty believed that everyone can make a difference in society and that everyone has an obligation to try. True to form, she quickly identified a local social need. She began volunteering at the Missoula Food Bank and continued her activism after Paul's death in 1998.

Betty was a member of the Missoula Friends Meeting, where her presence strengthened those around her.  She volunteered as a “grandma” in the kindergarten at Franklin Elementary School in the Meeting's neighborhood. She was a catalyst in establishing a fund to be used for the medical needs of the children there. It was later named the “Betty Husted Fund” and is now used for funding any special need.  

Betty is survived by her three children: Deborah M. Reams and husband James Reams of Ashburn, VA., Alan S. Newell and wife Susan H Newell of Missoula and William B Newell of Beverley, Mass. She had five grandchildren, Kathryn T. Newell and husband Darren Michael (San Antonio, Texas), Benjamin W. Newell (San Francisco), Carolyn Elizabeth Reams and husband Shawn Kane (Reston, Va.), Brian W. Reams and wife Thera Gaston Reams (New York City), and Casey Newell (Tewksbury, Mass.). She also had two great grandchildren, George P. Kane (Reston) and Claire Elizabeth Michael (San Antonio).

In July, 2013, her family and many friends came from all over the United States to help Betty celebrate her 90th birthday near Seeley Lake, Mt. It was a great occasion  to celebrate not just a birthday but a life. Her mind and sense of humor were as sharp as ever. She enjoyed all the deserved attention. In August the Missoula Meeting also celebrated her birthday with balloons, chocolate cake and many toasts.

Betty lived a full and giving life. She was never shy. She had her feet on the ground, was strong on common sense, and called a spade a spade. She had a way of bringing one down to earth in a few words without judging. She wanted all of us to follow our better angels and would willingly point the way to the reluctant. She led by action and example even to the end.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth Jane Husted. You have earned it! You will be forever missed but forever remembered by your family, friends and by the thousand unnamed whose lives you touched. That is not a bad legacy. The world is a better place because of you. One could not ask for a better epitaph.

The family planned a celebration of Betty's life on November 8, 2014, at the Missoula Friends Meeting House. Given her work with the Missoula Food Bank, the family asked that any donations be directed to that organization.