Virginia Elizabeth Persons, known to all as “Betty,” our society's 2005 Most Distinguished Pilgrim Award winner and long-time board member and Social Events Committee chair, died November 27, 2010.
Often hosting social events with her sister Helen Anne White, Betty guided SMDPA to many historic sites including “Waynes- borough,” the Paoli family mansion of Revolutionary War General “Mad Anthony” Wayne. A board member of Waynesborough, Betty helped establish the Georgian structure as a house museum in 1980. Our society went on to meet there three more times.
Known for her adept organizational skills, Betty chaired the Social Events Committee from 1995 to 2004, served on the Nominating Committee from 1997 - 2004, and was chair in 2000. Betty also was elected Elder in 1998. In 2005 she was awarded the Most Distinguished Pilgrim Award “for the gracious example she set, for the abundant goodwill she spread, as Elder, Board Member and Social Events Chair, and for the superlative contribution she made to the Society's entertainment, enlightenment and sense of well-being.”
A John Howland descendant, Betty joined SMDPA in 1961 and was elected to the Board of Assistants in 1994. She was active in many other organizations, including the Tri Delta Sorority at the University of Pennsylvania, whose members support the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; president of the Garden Club of Bala Cynwyd and master flower show judge of the National Council of State Garden Clubs; president of the Women's Committee of the Historical Society of York County; president of the Conestoga Chapter of Questers; member of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America and vice regent of the Great Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She served as a guide at Philadelphia's Fairmount Park Houses and instituted their Christmas Tour.
Her husband, Oren H. Persons, Jr., who predeceased her, also was a society member. Daughter Anne P. Robinson also predeceased her. She is survived by a daughter, Alice P. Bangs, and a son, Owen H. Persons III, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we thank them for sharing Betty with us. Her smile always lit up the room.