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Of Blessed Memory: Betty Gould Garfield

Betty Gould Garfield, of Tucson, peacefully passed away October 19, 2022, in San Diego, Calif., with her daughter, Judith, by her side.

Betty was born on Valentine’s Day in 1924 in New Haven, Conn., and lived there until 1936 when the Depression compelled her family to move to Los Angeles for better opportunities. She graduated high school with honors and a major in Latin, with plans to become a teacher. During her first year of college, WWII broke out. The drama and uncertainty made it too difficult to concentrate on studies, and jobs were plentiful with men away working toward the war effort. Betty found work as an insurance claims assistant where she remained until a position opened up for a claims examiner, which was ordinarily only available to men. Though single and in her early 20s, she studied hard for the complex exam and passed with flying colors, scoring not only the high-level position but a salary otherwise reserved for married men. She loved her work and kept her position even after the war was over.

Betty resigned her day job when she married her pharmacist husband, Reuben, who had newly opened a drugstore in which he needed to work nights. If both kept their working hours, they’d never see each other. Two daughters arrived in succession, and life ensued. Though Betty always regretted not graduating college, she celebrated her husband’s and daughters’ various college and professional degrees on a “wall of fame” that displayed their framed diplomas. After her husband died, Betty returned to work as a claims examiner at Liberty Mutual until retiring to Tucson.

During this phase of her life, she adventured to Europe and Alaska. A life-long learner (and bridge player) and magnet for making friends, she travelled with the Udall Senior Center group on many trips throughout Arizona and into Mexico. Betty spent 15 years educating school children as a volunteer naturalist in Sabino Canyon. She also volunteered as a poll worker for all the elections. During Tucson’s brutal summers, she gratefully looked forward to hiking Mt. Lemmon’s many trails with Bob Porter’s group. Then there was ukulele, where she played weekly with her group and performed on many occasions. As to faith, Betty always looked forward to Friday night services at Temple Emanu-El.

Yet despite all her fun and friends, Betty always missed the ocean. She finally returned to the coast in 2019 after health challenges. Betty’s final years were spent in Encinitas, Calif., where she played catch-up inhaling the ocean air and viewing the sparkling Pacific.

She leaves behind her daughters also in California: Heidi Garfield of San Francisco and Judith Garfield of La Jolla. Go-getter Betty always made the most of her life. She will be missed.

Betty Garfield, wife of late Reuben Garfield, daughter of late Clara Smith Gould and Harry Baron Gould, and mother of Heidi Marilyn Garfield and Judith Lea Garfield.

Donations may be made in Betty’s memory to Friends of Sabino Canyon or the National Park Foundation: