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Remembering Betty McCollum

by Karen Steele.

Elizabeth Habach McCollum (Betty): 2/3/1941 - 4/21/2020.

The Women’s Alliance and All Souls community are mourning our loss of Betty McCollum to COVID-19. Betty was an ambassador for the WA, for All Souls, and for Unitarian Universalism. Her bright smile, welcoming words, energy and caring were shared with everyone she met. She had a sensitive eye and ear for each person she encountered, always working to bring us together in community.

A social worker by profession, with degrees from Goucher and Smith College, Betty was very active in her Unitarian Universalist congregation in Rochester, NY, where she met her husband and reared her two children, Vashti and Angus. After she retired and moved to New York City in 2004, she joined All Souls (2007) and immediately became deeply engaged in the church’s work.

Her resume, shared in January 2019 when she was elected to the All Souls Board of Trustees, included high points of her All Souls service and leadership. She was President of the Women’s Alliance (2011-15), led the effort to incorporate as a NYS 501 (c) (3) organization, and served as Holiday Gift Table Chair, Program Committee Chair and on the Nominating Committee. She was a generous mentor to other WA leaders and in2019 she became a Board member of the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation.

Betty’s church-wide committee work included participating on the Caring Team and serving as a Lay Pastoral Associate. She was also a dedicated member of the Stewardship Committee, the Nuclear Disarmament Task Force, and All Souls Historical Society. For several years she was Head Usher for All Souls at Sundown, a Capital Campaign visitor, and a devoted member of the Monday Night Hospitality team. An All Souls delegate to a number of General Assemblies, she was voted a Deacon in 2017.

She loved swimming, hiking, camping, playing tennis, and traveling, attending concerts, dance performances, art museums, and recently the Metropolitan Opera in HD screenings. She marched for women’s rights. She took her grandchildren to summer camp in Sagamore and invited family and friends to spend time with her on Shelter Island, where she rented a house for part of many summers.

Betty always sought to share her love of life. That joy and commitment are clear in her statement as a Board nominee: “I am energized by the opportunities to help this church thrive and become the compassionate, stimulating, and transformative place it deserves to be in our lives, our city, and the world.”

Her daughter Vashti echoed this energy and love in an email to friends and family: “I hope that she will visit you in your hearts and in your dreams as the celestial fairy dust of her spirit spreads across the universe. She is leaving us with so many wonderful memories and as a model of how to live life to the fullest.”

Betty is survived by her two children, Vashti Lozier and her husband Luke, of Milwaukee, WI and G. Angus McCollum and his wife Tara, of Brooklyn, and her five grandchildren Emilie, Annalise, Isabella, Ian, and Malia.

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