October 14, 2020
Portland - The Rev. Betty Westhoven, 89, of Portland, Maine, passed away after a lengthy illness on October 14, 2020.
Betty (nee Betsy) was born in Passaic, NJ, on January 8, 1931, to Scottish immigrants Alexander and Betsy Thomson. As a young woman, Betty was active in and held advisory roles in the Order of the Eastern Star and the Passaic Assembly, Order of the Rainbow Girls. Giving back to community was just one of her lifelong missions.
On August 30, 1952, Betty married student pastor Morris Westhoven of the Reformed Church of Clifton, NJ. They had two children, Catherine Elizabeth and Andrew George. When her parents moved from New Jersey to York, Maine, Betty and Morris helped them build a house (Betty knew more about carpentry than many carpenters!). From there, the family spent most of their summers in Maine.
Betty earned her Masters in Sociology at Kent State University in 1970, and first taught Sociology at Pahlavi University in Shiraz, Iran (a life-changing adventure for Betty, Morris and their children), and later at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. She earned her Masters in Divinity at Boston University School of Theology in 1987, and was ordained shortly afterwards. Betty worked with many churches in Maine, including the Long Island United Methodist Church, Kezar Falls United Methodist Church and the West Yarmouth Methodist Church, among others. In her retirement, she took on a church in Jersey City, NJ, and worked there for two years before returning to Maine.
Betty was passionate about politics, community service and feeding the hungry, and had a great compassion for humanity. She loved animals and had many beloved pets throughout her life. What she loved most was laughter, and found her joy in family, friends and certainly, good food. Those close to her know how much she cherished her weekly trips to IHOP with her daughter Cathy – and Betty loved her IHOP family! Betty also enjoyed breaking bread, sharing laughs and talking theology with her very dear friends, Allison Flaherty Curry and Petra Smyth, who were also her mentees – not to mention, her partners-in-crime - during their journey into the ministry.
Betty was a woman of great conviction - a fervent supporter of basic human rights, and a fierce advocate for the rule of grace over the rule of law. She never thought twice about standing up for what she believed in. She took pride in calling herself a stubborn Scot and a “tough old bird”. For the past several years, she kept busy writing a book – even while legally blind - on her insights and perspective on theology. Betty is predeceased by her parents, her husband Morris, and several other friends and family members. Surviving are her son, Andrew Westhoven (wife Kristen), her daughter Cathy Moran (husband Jim), her brother Alex Thomson and many beloved family members.
The family is extremely grateful for the care and compassion that surrounded Betty at Seaside Nursing and Retirement Facility in Portland, Maine, especially during her most recent health challenges. Betty loved her caregivers very much and considered them family.
Memorial/Celebration of Life:
A private in-person ceremony for Betty was held on Saturday, 10/31.