It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our dear friend and Board Trustee Betsy Buttrill White on December 28th. Our condolences go out to her family and friends.
Betsy joined our Board of Trustees in 2015 and served as an officer in the roles of Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer and Vice President. Using skills honed at Vassar and Stanford University where she received a Ph.D. in Economics, Betsy worked for 27 years at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She rose to the level of Senior Vice President, one of the few women in such a senior position; there she developed macro-economic, financial market and bank supervisory policies, while holding wide-ranging management positions that included budgeting and strategic planning. After retiring in 2003, she taught Economics at Manhattanville College and served as a consultant for the Federal Reserve, the Central Bank of Iraq, and Da Afghanistan Bank. At a time when our nonprofit was expanding rapidly, her strong finance and education skills were invaluable. We were so very grateful to have her donate her time and expertise.
Having served as a board member and Finance Chair for the American Association of People with Disabilities, Betsy especially understood the needs of nonprofits. From the moment she set foot in our park, donning garden gloves for “I Love My Park Day,” an outdoor clean-up effort, Betsy immersed herself in understanding each metric of our organization, especially how donations and grant monies were spent. As a longtime member of the Executive and Finance Committees, Betsy delivered constructive insights undiluted and her compliments were equally honest. She served several terms as Treasurer and guided our budgeting and strategic planning including assisting on two capital projects.
Betsy attended every indoor and outdoor program on our calendar, whether she was interested in the topic or not, explaining “That’s my job.” She took stock of attendance, even volunteering to welcome and check people in at the admissions table. She thoroughly evaluated the speakers or performers, contributing candid post-event feedback on whether they were good fits for JHC’s mission. Truly, no organization had a better quality control officer or brand ambassador. She was so proud of the impact of our work, particularly our newest academic fellowships and our outreach to underserved Title I schools and local after-school youth groups. During the pandemic, Betsy grasped the potential of our garden vegetable and herb beds to ameliorate food scarcities – in 2021, she went out of her way to connect the Jay Heritage Center and Bill Cusano at Meals on Main Street in Port Chester. Since that meeting, our staff and volunteers have supplied literally hundreds of pounds of fresh food to their pantry through weekly harvests.
Betsy was far more than a colleague – she was a beautiful, true-hearted and loyal friend with a wickedly wonderful sense of humor and deft deployment of zingers aimed at herself as often as others. She took the time to learn the names of every volunteer and nonprofit partner. When she was Treasurer, we gave her a desk sign that said “Nope” and she loved it because she had no tolerance for wasting time or energy. She wouldn’t want us to be sad. Nope. Let us celebrate her life and the joy of knowing she made our lives so much richer and better.
Betsy is survived by her family, including her son and daughter-in-law, Erik and Vanessa Akhtar; her brothers and sisters-in-law, Bud and Judy Buttrill, John and Linda Buttrill, and Pat Buttrill; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her husband, Steve White; her parents, Sidney and Elinor Buttrill; and her brother, Joe Buttrill.
For those who would like to honor her legacy, the family asks that you make a donation to one of the organizations close to her heart: The Apawamis Foundation, the Jay Heritage Center, or 5 Steps to Five.
Gifts made to Jay Heritage Center in Betsy’s memory will go towards a bench and endowed vegetable beds in the Jay Estate Gardens with a dedication to take place on May 4, 2024.
Photos by Cutty McGill, Kim Crichlow and JHC