Betsy McKelvey was born in New York City to parents Elizabeth and Augustus Mckelvey on May 17, 1941. She died April 18, 2013.
She was the youngest of three siblings, growing up with her brothers Andrew and Don. In 1959 she left home to attend Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. There she formed the activist ethos that would remain true for the rest of her life. Although she did not complete college there, she spent the next two decades of her life campaigning for civil and gender rights. In 1975 she had a child, Robin McKelvey ‘97, and within two years she went back to school and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in education. In 1982 she moved the family to Toronto, Canada to pursue her Master’s degree in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. When her daughter left home at age 16 to attend Antioch as well, Betsy continued working for the Toronto Board of Education. She wrote curriculum on multiculturalism and inclusion of disenfranchised students in the classroom. Betsy subsequently was awarded the Queen’s Medal in Canada for exceptional community service for her work with PARC, a center focusing on seniors, low-income families, new immigrants, and mental health consumer/survivors. Betsy was honored for her involvement with street populations and mental health consumers, and her tireless work to bring them into care and keep them there.
Betsy survived her brother Andrew, who passed away from pancreatic cancer. In her later life she became oxygen dependent which forced retirement and a shift to intrenet-based activism. After a decline in health she moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 2008 to be with her family, welcoming twin grandchildren in 2011. Her final illness was rapid: septic shock took her life in 4 days and she died at midnight on Thursday April 18, 2013.
Betsy always wore a leather bracelet which stated “our deeds resonate through eternity”. She requested that she be cremated and scattered in Big Sur, California. She is survived by her daughter Robin, her son-in-law Robert Franklin, and her grandchildren Sean Declan Franklin and Neil Riley Franklin. She will be missed but the focus of her life, to never take the easy road and always help others, will continue. The family requests no flowers, and there will be no formal memorial service. Betsy was cared for at the JPS Hospital in Fort Worth, where her daughter practices medicine. If you wish to honor Betsy’s memory please contact the JPS Foundation, which exists to secure philanthropic gifts, goods and grants, providing service and support to the low income families who are receiving health care via JPS. Please contact Courtney Kimberling at 817-702-7310 or email jpsfoundation[at]jpshealth[dot]org to make a donation in her name.