Date: Sun, 7 Nov 2010 17:36:21 -0500
Reply-To: Conchologists List <CONCH-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Sender: Conchologists List <CONCH-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Subject: Betty Jean Piech, 09-21-1919 to 10-31-2010
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Early last week Betty Jean Piech passed away peacefully after a long
illness. Some of you knew her as Betty Jean, BJ or the “Tall One”,
but I knew her as mom. Betty Jean Stowell was born and grew up in New
Brunswick, NJ, graduated from Douglass Woman’s College (Rutgers) and
married Frank Piech in 1947. They moved to Wilmington, DE and had
three sons. When her children were young Betty Jean was a homemaker.
Later, Betty Jean went back to school, became a librarian, and worked
for many years before she retired.
In 1961 Frank & Betty Jean took their young family to Florida for a
vacation. We took the ferry over to Sanibel Island and began an
enduring interest in marine shell collecting. Every summer in the
1960’s our family returned to Sanibel for vacation. In the 1970’s
Betty Jean became involved in the newly built Delaware Museum of
Natural History and the Wilmington Shell Club, being its president
several times. She began taking shell collecting trips to the Bahamas,
Mexico and beyond. In the 1980’s and 1990’s she became even more
involved in shell collecting with more shell collecting trips to many
distant countries, including the Philippine Islands, Australia,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Africa and South America.
Betty Jean also became involved in COA and gave a number of
well-received talks at the national meetings. In 1992 Dr. William
Emerson and Betty Jean Piech collaborated on describing a new Distorsio
from the Panamic region, Distorsio jenniernestae, Emerson & Piech,
1992, http://*.gastropods.com/3/Shell_5543.shtml . Her favorite shell
family was the Ranellidae.
Along with Frank, Betty Jean imparted a love of science and nature to
her sons. Her enthusiasm for shell collecting and traveling was
contagious. Her many stories were entertaining, educational and
sometimes earthy. My wife, Alice and I had the privilege of going on
many shell collecting trips with our mother and getting to know her as
another adult. In addition to teaching us much about shell collecting,
she also encouraged our children, her grandchildren, to enjoy the
hobby. We spent many weeks together walking on the beaches of Sanibel
Island and snorkeling in the Florida Keys.
Although many knew and loved Betty Jean, her three sons and their
families will miss her the most. At mom’s request, there will be no
funeral. A brief memorial service will be held at the Cokesbury
Village in Hockessin, DE at 1:00 PM on Saturday, November 13.
About 15 years ago mom gave us a sealed envelope to be opened only
after her death. It contained this poem, which was probably intended
for many of you.
THOUGHTS FROM A SHELL COLLECTOR TO HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS
I love a beach where seabirds cry,
Where the shining water meets the sky.
Where one can look for shells and things,
And gather the gifts that each tide brings.
I like to walk upon the sand,
Between the ocean and the land.
To breathe the wonderful salty air,
And feel the breeze blow through my hair.
I enjoy the pleasure these things bring,
They calm my mind and make my heart sing.
And even when I can’t be there,
I always remember what the beach had to share.
And if you happen to see a shell,
I hope this thought you’ll remember well.
As I have prized each beautiful treasure,
So I value my family and friends in even greater measure.
And when the times comes I’m no longer here,
Do not think I have left you, never fear.
Just picture me happy on some distant shore
Picking up lovely things just as before.
For I will not have died, nor will I sleep;
I will see you again, so please do not weep,
I’ll just continue happy in His peace and care
Until the time comes when you join me there.
I love each and every one of you.
Betty Jean Piech
September 3, 1995
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