On April 28, 2011, Betty Rea Proctor, 96, passed away every bit as gracefully as she lived.
In loving memory of Betty Rea Proctor
By Shirley Bynum Smith, Saint Louis, Missouri
I. Of Betty Rea Proctor
Woman of perspicacity and poetry.
Keeper of lost art of letter writing, whose list
of correspondents reaches far. Sender of
postcards in elegant script. Witty confidante
and raconteuse. Savors synchonicity,
sees connections, honors friendship
and secrets. Lover of books and booklings,
art and artists, words and wisdom, and
Charlie, of course. Weeps with those
who weep, shares joy with the joyous.
Woman of principle. Mentor. Wise friend.
II. Fourteen Lines
Composed for Mary Elizabeth Rea Proctor
on the Occasion of Her Birthday (1999)
I salute your many gifts.
Some I hold in my hands:
books, photos, letters,
a poem here and there,
a little china Samoyed.
Some I hold in my heart:
you listen, write, inspire,
encourage. Some I guess at:
time and money honoring others’
accomplishments, not your own.
You dare to make your deep self
known through words, laughter,
small acts of kindness, and you are loved
by many if not understood by all.
III. Addendum (2011)
Above my desk:
The other in her eighties,
Both perched on chairs,
Graceful, smiling at the camera.
They are not so different,
These two, the light in their eyes
Equally eager: the young innocent,
The older trusting, deserving
Our protection and regard.
I did not know the younger
Except through the older,
The woman who loved words
And saw the poetry in mine.
How many others she graced
With her own words,
Meticulously thought out
And artfully penned,
I cannot begin to count,
But this I know:
In her old age, at the end,
She did not lose her words.
She had given them away.
Here is a picture of my beloved grandmother, “My Bobbie” with a group of her dearest friends, “The Booklings“, celebrating her 90th birthday on January 29th, 2005. The Booklings from left to right: Sabra Tull Meyers, Petch Peden, Carole Patterson (kneeling), Betty Burdick, Betty Proctor (sitting), Laura Perez Mesa, Barbara Davis (kneeling), Teeny Gibbons.