Pioneer community organizer saw her primary job as wife and mother
Betti Cuddy was born July 21, 1924 in O’Neill, Nebraska to Fay and Nellie Puckett. As a young woman, she taught high school in Grand Island, Nebraska before her marriage to Alaskan Dan Cuddy in 1948. Her family wrote; “Her most important role was as a wife of 62 years to Dan, and mother to their 6 children.” Betti Cuddy’s community leadership in Alaska began when she was a young mother, volunteering her time as a Girl Scout leader and secretary/treasurer of the Anchorage Women’s Club. She held a seat on the organizational committee for Alaska Methodist University known as Alaska Pacific University. In the 1960s she organized the Treasures of Sight and Sound (TOSS), the self-funded predecessor to the community Schools Program which paved the way for local theatre productions. Through TOSS, literally thousands of Anchorage school children received instruction in gymnastics, music, singing and many other theater activities. “I feel strongly school children should be exposed to the arts,” she often said. The Greater Anchorage Chamber of commerce awarded a Gold Pan Award to TOSS in recognition of Betti’s work for the community through the organization. Continuing her quest for raising the standards of education, she sat on the State Board of Education in the late 70s. She continued to be a prolific patron of Anchorage arts, especially the theater, and served as a board member of Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and that group’s Symphony Committee. Betti Cuddy was a supporter of the Cuddy Family Midtown Park near the Loussac Library in Anchorage. When completed the park will include a covered stage and seating area for outdoor theatrical venues, amenities Betti felt were important to encourage community performances. To honor her efforts in bringing the park to fruition, a lovely landscaped area of the park was designated “Betti’s Garden.” In 2009, Cuddy Family Park also established a special “Christmas Tree” to fulfill Betti’s vision of a wintry park tradition that included ice skating and hot chocolate beneath festive holiday trimmings. A lifetime member or the Anchorage Women’s Club, she helped form the organization’s FREE committee, a grass-roots women’s only political advocacy effort in the 1970s. Betti Cuddy was named Honorary Chairwoman of the YWCA Anchorage Academy of Woman Achievers. Her effort through the FREE committee brought legislative attention to numerous subjects of concern to Anchorage Women. At the university level, Betti played a major role in the renovation of the Lucy Cuddy Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus and helped develop a renewed focus for the university’s culinary arts and hospitality programs. “She was an ardent supporter of UAA’s Lucy Cuddy Hall and a tremendous fan of the Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Dietetics and Nutrition Program,” said Tim Doebler, the program’s UAA Director. “She will be greatly missed and her kindness will always be remembered. This program and facility would not be what it is today if it hadn’t been for her. I feel like I’m losing a co-worker.” Her children often said, “Motherhood was her most rewarding role.” “Our Mom couldn’t swim, but what she could do was make sure all of her children could swim. And we did. We all became members of the Spa Swim Team. Our Mom couldn’t ski, but what she could do was make sure all of her children could ski. And we did. We all learned how to ski at Arctic Valley.” Family and friends note Betti Cuddy kept a watchful eye on her six children and her many grandchildren, the exemplary mother, always giving, unquestionably, her time when a child or grandchild asked. Dedicated to her children, she always put their upbringing and interests ahead of her own professional career. Betti is survived by her husband, Dan; their six children and their spouses, Betsy and David Lawer, David and Kathy Cuddy, Gretchen Cuddy, Jane and Gary Klopfer, Lucy and Mark Mahan, Laurel and Fred Stutzer, many grandchildren, three nieces and their families. The service will be announced at a later date. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor the memory of Betti Cuddy contribute to Betti’s Garden or the Holiday Christmas Tree at Cuddy Family Park, or to the Lucy Cuddy Center at UAA. Contributions to these charities may be made at any First National Bank Alaska branch, payable to the Betti Cuddy Trust for Cuddy Family Charities, First National account #30820765.
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