UNADILLA – Beth “Betty” Bernice Roscoe (born Thompson), 97, died peacefully on Dec. 20, 2018, at Bassett Hospital, after a life of farming and diligent productivity.
She is survived by her children Gary Little, 63 and Carl Roscoe, 52, by her grandchildren Noah Roscoe, 28, and Jonah Roscoe, 24 and by five younger brothers and sisters.
She was predeceased by two husbands, Charles Little (d. 1959) and George Roscoe (d. 1971), and by one of her younger brothers.
Betty lived a long, happy and amazingly healthy life, attributing this to spending much of it involved in farming. “I have always been in love with farming,” she once wrote, “to be a farmer has been my aim. I have accomplished it, in a small way, with a lot of luck and help along the way. I still think it is the ideal.”
She lived in Northern California from her birth in 1921 until her parents moved east in a Model A Ford to settle in Upstate New York in 1929. Growing up on a farm with her six brothers and sisters, she attended school in a one-room school house in Andes, a brief two-mile walk from their home.
Betty’s father believed and taught her that a woman on the other side of a cross-cut saw was as good as a man, so her first job after graduating, during the 1940s, was as a live-in hired hand at a nearby farm. There she worked only six days each week, having Sundays free to walk the six miles home for family dinner, then back to work.
During the 1950s, while her first husband worked for a livestock auction company, she rented a small dairy farm which she ran herself. After marrying a second time in the 1960s to a photographer and music teacher, she decided that operating the farm was leaving her with too much free time, so she opened and ran a home for the elderly.
By the time she became twice a widow in 1971, she had purchased the farm. There she raised a variety of animals for milk, meat and eggs. Every day, twice a day, she milked several cows by hand, selling the raw milk to residents of a commune and to others. In her spare time, she managed to be a loving, nurturing single mother to her two children, making most of their meals from her farm products and from a large vegetable garden she maintained for fresh and canned goods.
In the 1980s, she felt it was starting to become hard work to make a living by farming. She sold her cows and began supporting her family by reupholstering furniture, “back when people didn’t just throw everything away,” as she said. Later she transitioned to teaching reupholstering classes for many years at Home Extension. She also helped teach quilting classes at a shop run by her sister in Franklin.
After her retirement, in the 1990s, she bought and sold antiques and collectibles from several booths in Old Hickory Antique Center, Bainbridge. Until she was 94, she drove herself every day to and from the Center, yard sales, auctions and the houses of the many friends she made over the years to buy her inventory.
Most recently, she finally decided it was time to take a couple of years of vacation, spending them with her beloved pets on the farm she loved. Betty was always thoughtful, kind, perpetually upbeat and very proud of her independence. She will be lovingly missed and remembered by her family and the many, many friends she made through the years.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Dec. 29 at the Westcott Madden Funeral Home in Unadilla. Calling hours will be 10-11 a.m., with the service to follow immediately thereafter.