A daughter of the late Irving and Thelma Spear, Betty was born May 3, 1931, in Springfield, Mass. A graduate of Brown University, she went on to earn a master’s degree in zoology at the University of Michigan, where she met and married fellow student Frank William “Bill” Whitmore in 1955. When Bill was drafted and sent to Ft. Belvoir, the couple lived briefly in Washington, D.C., where Betty taught science at the Holton Arms School.
Betty and Bill spent much of their lives in Wooster with their three children, including a special needs daughter. Betty began teaching adult basic education in the evenings, and she and her husband became active in the Wayne County Democratic Club, where they could be counted on to work every election. The NAACP was another passion, and Betty was recognized by this civil rights group for her longtime service and dedication.
In 1986, Betty earned a law degree from the University of Akron, with the distinction of being the senior member of her graduating class. For several years, she worked for the Wooster-Wayne County Legal Aid Society, where among her proudest achievements was winning a “lemon law” case against a major car company. In 1994, she was honored with the group’s W.H.H. Wertz Service Award for her efforts on behalf of equal access to justice.
After Bill retired, he and Betty moved to Salisbury, Md., to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Betty continued to advocate for those with developmental disabilities as well as for civil rights, joining the local NAACP branch, where she helped organize school supply drives and push for fair housing laws. She also worked for several years with the Legal Aid Bureau of the Lower Eastern Shore while continuing her love of teaching by tutoring area school children. Betty and Bill were active members of the Peace Alliance of the Lower Shore. Betty was also a member of Salisbury Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
In recent years, she enjoyed being part of Writers Bloc, a local writing group. In 2009, Betty self-published Massachusetts Girl and Two Brothers During the Great Depression and WWII, about her early years, as a gift to her family.
Betty is survived by children, Susan (Gary Frisch) Adams Whitmore and David Cullen (Tyler) Whitmore; and grandchildren, Carson and Cullen Whitmore.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; daughter, Sarah; and brothers, Edward and Quincy Spear.
A celebration of her life will be held in Wooster in the spring.
Arrangements are in the care of Holloway Funeral Home, Salisbury, Md. To send condolences to the family, visit http://www.hollowayfh.com.
Betty’s wishes were that memorial contributions be made to Salisbury Unitarian Universalist Fellowship or the National Geographic Society.
Published: December 7, 2011