W. Elizabeth Scantlebury otherwise known as “Betty” was born on the island of Barbados on November 25th, 1933. Betty, the 11th of 12 children, received her early education in Barbados. She often looked out at the distant ocean and wondered what lay beyond it. Her childhood desire was to leave Barbados and go to America “when she grew up”. In June, 1952 at age 18, that dream came true ~ she left Barbados to live in New York. Betty lived at Lenox Avenue in Harlem in a five-story brownstone owned by her cousin, Henry A. Toppin, a well-known undertaker.
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After coming to the United States, Betty completed her high school education. She then received a diploma in secretarial studies from the New York Business School in 1953, and was hired as a stenographer at the Presbyterian Board of National Missions. She worked for the Department of Missionary Personnel, where persons were hired to staff the various missionary schools, colleges, and hospitals in the country. After working there for 3 years, Betty took a job at the American Cancer Society as secretary to the Assistant Manager of Public Relations. In 1960, Betty was hired as a secretary to the Associate Manager of Public Relations at Mobil Oil Corporation. She was one of the first black women to be employed by Mobil. Although this job offered many benefits, Betty felt an inner nudge to change careers and do something that she felt would be more fulfilling for her.
In 1960, Betty married the Rev. Canon Cecil A. Scantlebury, “Alvin”, at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Harlem. Alvin worked as the Assistant Priest, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church while Betty continued working at Mobil Oil Corporation.
In 1965, Betty and Alvin moved to Tiebout Avenue in the Bronx. It was while living there, that Betty discovered Bronx Community College, which was within walking distance. By this time, Betty had quit her job at Mobil Oil to take care of her young daughter, Monica. One day, Betty took a walk over to the College, and registered for an evening course in history. She enjoyed the class and earned an A. In the meantime, she learned that the community college offered an associates degree in nursing.
Betty completed her degree and became a registered nurse. She found her new career to be especially challenging and fulfilling, particularly when she began working at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx.
In 1969, Betty, Alvin, and Monica moved to White Plains where Alvin was called to lead St. Francis and St. Martha’s Episcopal Church. Their daughter, Joy, was born shortly thereafter. Betty then received her Bachelor of Science degree from Pace University. She also worked at St. Agnes Hospital in White Plains, and at Grasslands Hospital, now the Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla.
Betty was subsequently employed as a school nurse in the White Plains School District for 26 years. She worked at the Highlands Junior High School, and at the Mamaroneck Avenue Elementary School. She retired in 2000, having served children of all ages, ranging from pre-k to high school.
Betty fondly recalled how diverse the White Plains School District was. In fact, she referred to it as a mini-United Nations. She often thanked God that she was blessed to have a job that she thoroughly enjoyed. Not only did she care for the children, but she also had a very good working relationship with the teachers, administrative, and custodial staff.
Betty was a strong supporter of her husband’s ministry. Not only was she unpretentious and hard working - she was a master fundraiser. She spearheaded dinner dances, banquets, and her signature jazz concerts held at the church. Betty attributed her success in fundraising to her belief that all things are possible. In addition to raising money for her church, she did the same for the wider community. When Habitat for Humanity first came to Westchester in 1989, an idea initiated by Canon Scantlebury, Betty became a member of its board of directors and was its first chairperson of special events.
For over 25 years, Betty attended many religious retreats, and credited her spiritual growth to the discipline of prayer and meditation. She hosted Sunday evening discussions during Lent. Betty also combined a New York University graduate course in Dr. Delores Krieger’s Therapeutic Touch, with her nursing background and spirituality. She had success in healing through prayer and the laying on of hands. Every morning, she and Alvin offered prayers for others.
Betty’s household accommodated students, friends, and relatives, many coming from overseas. Betty was a friend, mentor, and confidant to many. She often remarked that while she did not collect coins or stamps, she enjoyed collecting all kinds of people as friends and acquaintances. It was her belief that others are our greatest teachers, and everyone has something to share, regardless of race, religion, education or socio-economic background. She also discovered that a sense of humor is a valuable asset.
Among the awards Betty received was the American Lung Association’s Rosalie Weiss Memorial Award for “outstanding leadership in health education”. She was also the recipient of the P.T.A. Jenkins Award for outstanding service to the children of the White Plains Schools, which entitled her to lifetime membership in the New York State Parent Teachers Association. Betty was also an involved parent in the Valhalla Public Schools, and was very active in the Parkway Homes Civic Association.
Throughout the years, Betty enjoyed taking a variety of courses. At Fashion Institute of Technology, she studied dress designing and millinery. Calligraphy and cake decorating were among the other skills that she developed.
One of the sayings of Jesus that had meaning to Betty was “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will open unto you”.
Betty is predeceased by her husband, the Rev. Canon Cecil A. Scantlebury, and survived by her daughters: Dr. Monica and Joy Scantlebury; her brother, Harold (Isolene) Gay of Boston; sister-in-law Juliette Scantlebury of Brooklyn; sister-in-law Ethne Gay of Ontario; sister-in-law Barbara Scantlebury of Savannah; sister-in-law, Enid Gay; brother-in-law, Lincoln (Shelley) Scantlebury, of Barbados; and a host of nieces and nephews, other relatives, and friends.
The Entire Staff of Lee's Funeral Home, LLC respects that the Scantlebury family entrusted the care of their loved one to us, and that they value the level of service & attention our funeral home provides. We are honored, in turn, to provide comfort, assistance and service to Scantlebury family during their time of bereavement.
In LIEU of flowers, the family appreciates/kindly requests memorial donations be made in her honor/memory/name to: St. Francis & St. Martha's Episcopal Church, 575 Tarrytown Rd., White Plains, NY 10607; and/or Friends of T.D.Y.C.C., c/o Senior Unit, 32 Manhattan Ave., White Plains, NY 10607, (& memo field in check should specify in her memory for Senior Unit); and/or Hospice Care in Westchester & Putnam, 540 White Plains Rd., Suite 300, Tarrytown, NY 10591 (also through donation tab on menu here in website). If flowers are sent despite family request NOT for flowers, small plants or vases are preferred, & may be DELIVERED ONLY On FRI. DEC.13th, 2019 By/Before 6:00PM To LEE'S FUNERAL HOME. The Family Thanks You!