Betty Ruth Horne Rosen died peacefully February 24, 2021, at age 100 in Topeka, Kansas, surrounded by the love of family near and far. Born and raised in Britain, she immigrated in 1947 to the United States at age 26 to marry Irwin Rosen, her husband of 69 years, who passed away in 2016. Their love was constant and deep, always together in times of celebration and difficulty.
Betty was born August 21, 1920, at home in Bury in Northern England. Her family moved when she was two to Thornton Cleveleys on the coast of the North Sea in Lancashire. The second of four children born to Thompson Horne III and Edith Mary Pennington Horne, Betty was the last surviving member of her generation. Her siblings included an older brother Joseph (Betty), younger brother Geoffrey (Anne), and a younger sister Margaret Horne Hughes (Ron).
Like all of Britain, much of life at that time was marked by the World Wars. Her older brother was born shortly before WWI in which their father served, and Betty was born just after. Her childhood was profoundly interrupted by the death of her father in the mid-1930s. Betty left day school for night school and both she and Joe worked to support their mother and younger siblings.
Betty was a bright (ranked 1st in her class of 60), upbeat, energetic and curious child. She was active in the Girl Guides, later rising to head the organization for Lancashire County. In her leadership role, she and others from across Britain were invited to Windsor Castle for an audience with then Princess Elizabeth. Betty was an irrepressible optimist and truly believed in herself and those she cared about. Her smile reflected her warmth and positivity.
As the war in Europe was drawing to a close, Betty and her sister went to a pub in Lytham-St. Anne’s on St. Patrick’s Day, 1945, where American GIs were congregating. Her future husband was singing along with the band, lyrics she did not recognize. Her opening comment was a heckle: “You’re singing the wrong words, Yank!” Struck by the comment from the red-headed beauty, he replied, “I know we are singing the right words because a countess taught me them today.” They later learned there are actually two different versions to the song. They spent the rest of the evening talking, met again the next evening, and fell in love quickly and completely. Between war’s end and Irv’s return to America in February 1946, their love blossomed and Irv proposed while on a hiking excursion in Grasmere, in the Lake District.
After 16 months apart, Betty immigrated in May, 1947. The engagement ring that awaited her upon arrival in New York was forever known by family as “The La Guardia Ring.” On the eve of their marriage, Betty completed her conversion to Judaism and took her middle name Ruth. After marriage, Irv continued graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. They lived with his parents and grandmother in an apartment above the family business. Irv’s grandmother, an immigrant twice over, took Betty under her wing to orient her to America, urban life, and living in a Jewish home.
Tragedy struck when Irv’s mother died suddenly just before the birth of their first child, Larry, in October, 1949. Like many strong couples, Betty and Irv turned even more fully to each other to bear the sorrow of loss, followed by the joyous celebration of the Larry’s birth.
Menninger’s Post-Doctoral program in Psychology brought the family to Topeka, Kansas in 1952. Two more sons, Eric in 1953, and Don in 1956, were welcomed and raised with Larry there. Betty was a beloved, trusted, and reliable friend to many of her children’s friends who appreciated her positive presence. Betty was active in the League of Women Voters and became President of the local chapter in 1964. Together with other leaders, she met President Johnson when he addressed the group.
The unexpected death of their first son at age 22 in 1972 challenged Betty and Irv to turn again to each other for sustenance, out of which emerged a capacity to love even more fully and broadly, shown by the depth of their support to Eric and Libby at the time of the stillbirth of their daughter, Laura, in 1980.
Betty worked at Menninger’s in the Research Department for 20 years, retiring in 1986. She also taught aerobics at the YWCA from the late ‘70s to the ‘90s, then traded her leotard for a swimsuit and continued to teach water aerobics. Also, she was a Docent at the Kansas Museum of History during this time. Betty loved the mountains and was truly at home when hiking the trails of Rocky Mountain National Park. From England’s Lake District to the Yorkshire Pennines to Colorado, she loved the beauty uniquely found when in nature.
Surrounded by her family, she was laid to rest during a private graveside service on March 17th, 2021, once again united with Irv on their 76th anniversary of meeting. Betty is survived by the abundance of love and hope with which she lived. She was the proud mother of her two surviving sons, Eric and Don, mother-in-law to Libby and Laurie, grandmother to Paul (Amy), Jacob (Jaime), Mark (Brandi), Tom, Graham (Naomi), and Merritt, and proud great grandmother to Brooke, Liliana, Carson, Jack, Mira, Kinley, and Chloe; she later welcomed John, Lauren and Will into the family. All of her descendants have inherited and continue to aspire to embody her dignity, courage, warmth, and utter human decency. The family would like to thank the caregivers at Brewster Place, Sunflower Neighborhood, for the wonderful and loving care they provided during her final decade of life.
To leave a message for her family online, please click the "Share Memories" button above.