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Betsy Hayes, 70, Toddsville;

Focus Family Council Chair

Betsy Hayes

COOPERSTOWN – M.E. “Betsy” Hayes, 70, Toddsville, long active in public health initiatives, and most recently in the news as president of the Centers at Cooperstown (former Focus) Family Council, passed away on Jan. 2, 2019, from complications of a recent illness.

Born in Plainfield, N.J., Betsy cherished the memories of her early childhood in the South Jersey town of Delanco, moved to metropolitan Cranford, N.J., in middle school, and obtained a BSN degree from Keuka College.

Her early professional work included hospital nursing in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut. She later worked for the Upstate Home (now Springbrook), Otsego Head Start, the Otsego Area School of Practical Nursing, the Brookwood School, and the Otsego Public Health Partnership.

She was a co-founder of the Healthy Families Home Visiting program at Opportunities for Otsego, served on various program advisory committees, and most recently was health policy consultant to Otsego Head Start. She held state certification as a Public Health Program Specialist.

An adventurous spirit, Betsy met the love of her life and husband-to-be, Bill, in a Parisian cafe’ in 1969. They continued to explore the world together and introduced their children and grandchildren to nearby and faraway places. Betsy visited nine European countries, the headwaters of the Amazon by riverboat, Australia, Costa Rica, all continental U.S. states and Alaska, plus 10 provinces of Canada, traveling by plane, train, boat, hovercraft, hydrofoil, and the ever-intriguing road trips by car.

Devoted to the importance of personal relationships and community-building, Betsy and Bill took pride in acquiring and renovating historic buildings in their neighborhood and providing affordable year-‘round housing. She delighted in personally wielding tools to “demo” what needed to be “demo’d”, and saving what could be saved or reused.

In addition to her husband, Bill, she is survived by two sons, Ben (Emily) Hayes of North Stonington, Conn., and of Tim (Lindsay) Hayes of Cooperstown.  She was “MeMe” to her delightful grandchildren Wyatt, Skyler and Elliott of North Stonington, and Madison and Lucy of Cooperstown. She was sister to Rick (Muff) Wagner Jr. and Ginny Wagner, both of Isle of Palms, S.C.  She leaves, as well, her cousins Ly, Skip and Toby, her cherished nieces and nephews, and her many colleagues and friends.

Betsy was the devoted daughter of Norma and Dick Wagner of Cranford, N.J. and Cooperstown, and niece of Otty Barton and Lya Wallerius, all of whom predeceased her.

A compassionate, vibrant, straightforward woman, Betsy has left an indelible imprint on her community and on all who knew her.

In her honor, Betsy would want everyone to commit to ongoing infectious acts of kindness. Those who wish to donate to causes that address the needs of people at risk (especially children) may consider contributions to organizations such as, but not limited to, the Building Healthy Families program at Opportunities for Otsego, Prevent Child Abuse NY, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Doctors Without Borders, and the ACLU.

A Celebration of her life will be held in late spring at a time and place to be determined and announced later.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Ottman Funeral Home, Cherry Valley. To send online condolences visit:


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