Life Story for
Mary Elizabeth "Betsy" Castle
Sunlight drifting through falling snow graced the mountains when Betsy Castle of Bellevue, Idaho, died of a heart attack on Jan. 16 doing what she loved to do, skiing on Baldy! Her other loves were her husband, Jerry, and children, Trinity and Bella.
Betsy was born in 1963 in Buffalo, N.Y., and grew up spending her summers swimming, sailing and fishing at the beach in Thunder Bay, Canada. After earning a B.S. at SUNY, Binghamton and becoming lifelong friends with Bill W, she made her way west. Betsy joined her mother, Bunny; sister, Mia; and brother, Lyman, in Seattle, where she continued her passion working with nonprofits, carrying on the family legacy as a Planned Parenthood local board member. It was in these years in Seattle, through her work with the King County Surface Water Management Division, where she discovered her love of native plants and gardening. Betsy’s work focused on salvaging and replanting native species along streams and waterways during the housing development boom in the ’90s. Most of us do not consider where wastewater goes and the effects development has on our environment, including wild salmon in the Northwest, yet Betsy was determined to share what she had learned, and walked across the United States to educate America on this topic. She spoke with everyone from children in schools to local county and state governments.
As she crossed the Rocky Mountains, Betsy entered the most beautiful valley in the lower 48—Stanley, Idaho. Looking for a place to spend the night, she walked into The River Co. bunkhouse and met Jerry Hadam. She told her sister, “as cliché as it sounds, he took my breath away.” Betsy and Jerry were married in 1999 and have two daughters—Trinity, 14, and Bella, 11. Betsy’s lifelong dream of having a big, loving, extended family came true when she met the Hadam clan.
She was happiest in the mountains, swimming, hiking, soaking in the hot springs or floating a river. She caught the fly-fishing bug the first summer in Idaho and loved to fish the Middle Fork, where she and Jerry spent their honeymoon. She was able to help nurture those passions in her children and friends as they enjoyed many days on the river together.
As Betsy settled in the Wood River Valley, she began working with a local nonprofit called Council Circle, eventually serving as its executive director. Originally starting mostly with adults, Betsy was proudest that Circle moved into the schools with an after-school program that provided a safe, judgment-free zone for almost 300 kids in every school in the valley.
It was Betsy’s love of reading and her care for her local Bellevue, Idaho, community that she began her position at the Bellevue Library. Betsy recently shared that her work at the library included everything from reading to schoolchildren to writing grants. The current focus is on raising $50,000 for a new addition to expand the library. Grant writing, fundraising and networking were some of her passions and gifts. Several nights a week for the last year and a half, Betsy taught adult basic education at the College of Southern Idaho. Betsy taught basic math and literary skills to adults in the community, supporting them to get GEDs, enthusiastically empowering her students to be successful.
Betsy’s memorial service will be held at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 5 p.m. Financial gifts to help support the family can be made locally to Idaho Independent Bank in Ketchum. Please also see You Care Crowdfunder, www.youcaring.com/helpsupportbetsysfamily