HEBRON — Betsy Tenney Houser Twombly passed away peacefully on Nov. 4, 2019, in the comfort of her home, at the age of 94, surrounded by her loving family.
Betsy was born on Oct. 9, 1925, in Arlington, Massachusetts, to Ralph and Faith Houser. Growing up, Betsy developed a profound appreciation for nature and outdoor adventures, spending summers at her beloved Owlshead — an Adirondack-style log cabin built by her father above Newfound Lake in Hebron, New Hampshire — where she and her elder sister, Hope, camped, canoed, swam, played tennis, and hiked the White Mountains.
Betsy was a highly accomplished student during her lifetime, graduating with honors from Belmont (MA) High School in 1943 and earning a full scholarship to Tufts University, where she graduated with honors in biochemistry.
Following her graduation, Betsy became a skilled clinician, serving in the Eye Division of Massachusetts General Hospital as well as the prestigious Histology Department of Harvard Medical School.
Later in life, Betsy returned to school to become a medical technologist and subsequently an instructor at the Bryman School for African American Women where she trained, mentored and prepared ladies for employment.
During her lifetime, Betsy became an accomplished skier and avid bicyclist — pursuing both pastimes well into her 80s, traveling to resorts in the Alps, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and California to conquer the slopes; as well as bicycling through France, Holland, Denmark, Germany, and Austria, in order to see those beautiful countries first-hand.
It was through Betsy’s passion for skiing that she crossed paths with her husband, Phil Twombly, whom she met on the ski slopes of Woodstock, Vermont. The two married at Owlshead in 1949, and moved to Bedford, Massachusetts, where they raised their five children.
A lifelong artist, Betsy was an accomplished painter, sketch artist, seamstress, knitter, and potter. She was renowned among family and friends for her hand-knit sweaters, mittens, socks, and Christmas stockings. Additionally, Betsy’s annual Christmas cards were an institution; friends and family alike delighted in receiving her custom-designed cards, featuring her original art and witty reflections on contemporary issues.
Upon retirement, Betsy found a new artistic passion, after attending her first pottery course at the DeCordova Museum, taught by the famous ceramicist Mikodo Yarbe. Betsy was so taken by the medium that she and Phil had a ceramic studio built into their Hebron home when it was constructed in 1990. It was there that Muddy Paws Pottery was born. Over the course of the next 29 years, Betsy would apply her aptitude in chemistry to experiment with glazes, and her talent as a designer to crafting several generations of beautiful mugs, platters, and pottery pieces — many of which she sold through the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen stores. One of Betsy’s favorite activities was inviting local children and visiting grandchildren into her studio to “play clay” and create imaginative animals and pots.
Betsy established an endowment in 1994 at Tufts University to fund scholarships for women studying in the field of science and medicine. Betsy’s love of nature and Newfound Lake inspired her to be one of the first members and volunteers of the Newfound Lake Region Association, and saw her establish the Naturally Newfound Fair in order to raise money and public awareness about watershed protection and water quality in the lake. Betsy’s pursuit of knowledge, personal development, and adventure were insatiable; she loved life, the beautiful world she lived in, and the people around her. Through her example, she taught all of us: never, ever stop moving.
Betsy is deeply loved by all those she knew, and will be greatly missed.
She is survived by her devoted husband of 70 years, Phil Twombly; her children, Stephen Twombly of Roxbury, Vermont, Martha Twombly of Hebron, Andrew Twombly of Hebron, Peter Twombly of Jamestown, Rhode Island, and Carol Twombly of Nevada City, California; her 12 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Betsy’s life will be scheduled in the near future.
She will be interred at the Belmont Cemetery, in Belmont, Massachusetts, with her parents.
Contact with the family may be facilitated through Martha Twombly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Pemi-Baker Community Health (pbhha.org), 101 Boulder Point, Suite 3, Plymouth, NH 03264; Comfort Keepers, 12 Yeaton Road, Suite B1, Plymouth, NH 03264; or a charity of your choice.