Elizabeth Cochran Botts Kreitz died July 9, 2014, with her son Bob and daughter-in-law Tina holding her hands. Grandma Betty was 93 years old and filled each of her days with joyful living.
Elizabeth was born Feb. 23, 1921, in Baltimore, the oldest child of Robert Thomas Botts and Sarah Tilgman Cochran Botts. Her brother, Robert, and sister Jane followed quickly. When she was six, her mother died.
Betty’s strong sense of family was formed then.
Betty graduated from Franklin High School in Reisterstown, Md. and after two years of college joined one of the first groups of women to enlist in the WAVES. She trained at Hunter College in New York City and U.S. Naval Training School, Indiana University. Her first orders were to the Naval Air Station (NAS), Alameda. That assignment would change her life.
She met a stunning, tall, blonde Ralph Kreitz at NAS. The two married in 1944 at St. Lawrence O’Toole in Oakland after a whirlwind romance. Their only child, Robert, was born in 1945. Their joy and Alameda family life was shattered when Ralph contracted polio in 1946, causing Betty to return to work at NAS in the Supply Department until her retirement in 1976. Betty was a woman of incredible strength and character. She supported Ralph as he lived with the effects of polio for 22 years and raised a remarkable son.
Friends were a central part of Betty’s life. The Stitch and Chatter Club met weekly for over 65 years. These eight women were the essence of compassionate, supportive, creative friends and were ahead of their time.
In retirement, Betty lived a life of travel and fun with her dear friends. Ireland, England, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii and numerous states were on her active itinerary. She shared many trips and activities with her dearest friend and soul mate, John Sheffield.
They danced, laughed and loved being with her grandchildren. Roberta Elizabeth, her namesake, Erin Christina and her husband Jack Shirey, Tyler Robert and his wife Carla Menchini received Betty’s unconditional love and great cooking. Great grandchildren Makenzie, Emerson, Finley Shirey and Ethan Kreitz brought joy and smiles to Grandma Betty in her last years.
A memorial mass and celebration of Elizabeth will be held Aug. 16, 1 p.m. at Newman Hall, Holy Spirit Chapel, Berkeley. Elizabeth enjoyed her garden and colorful flowers. The family requests you wear bright colors and do not send flowers.
Donations in Elizabeth’s honor can be made to: Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, CA 94501
Born in Oakland to the late Michael Angelo Grappo and Jane Walcutt, Suzanne passed away peacefully in Alameda.
She is survived by siblings Barbara (Martin) Grappo Lampe, Carole Grappo, David (Anne) Grappo, Jeffrey Grappo, M. Steven (Kim) Grappo and Donald Grappo, and was predeceased by her brother Thomas Grappo.
Prior to moving to Calistoga, Suzanne was a longtime resident of Alameda and a devout Catholic and member of St. Barnabas and St. Philip Neri churches in Alameda.
A mass of christian burial was celebrated on Friday, July 11, at St. Barnabas Church followed by the committal at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Oakland.
Greer Family Mortuary and Cremation Services FD 1408
Resident of Alameda
Sylvia died peacefully at Alameda Hospital. She was preceded in death by her parents, Antonia and Giovanni Zanaria, her sister Linda Zanaria, her husband William James Gates and her son William John Gates.
She is survived by her daughter Carol Gates Olney Dean, her grandsons Kevin Hulbert (Tess), Phillip W. Dean, William Scott Dean (Maria), her granddaughter Natalie Devora (Lynn Wood) and great-grandchildren Jewel Devora Wood, Kyle Dean and Geraldine (Den) Hulbert.
There are countless other nieces, nephews and a myriad of friends and acquaintances both in the U.S. and Italy who remain behind to remember her fabulous Italian cooking (for which she rarely shared recipes), her gorgeous garden and her fun stories about Alameda. Among other things, she saw the Posey Tube built to replace a wooden bridge; at 16 she worked on the Midway at Neptune Beach; in the ’50s she saw South Shore and Harbor Bay (Bay Farm Island) created by dredging the San Leandro estuary (replacing the truck farms which once grew “sustainable, organic produce”).
One of her favorite stories involved her 1932 trip to Italy with her father. A brief stop in Chicago involved riding in Al Capone’s car and later meeting him, long before he became infamous.
She always involved herself with school PTAs and kept an immaculate house in which she often entertained with sumptuous dinners. In later years she traveled frequently to Italy visiting relatives in the Piemonte and Genova regions and traveling throughout Europe. In addition to being a homemaker she worked for 13 years as a bookkeeper at what is now known as Holy Names University in Oakland.
For the past 12 years, Phillip Dean was her “right-hand man” driving her around, running errands, maintaining the garden and in the past five years, serving as her daytime caretaker and supervisor of other caregivers. A benefit of that is that she was able to remain in her own home until late February of this year.
Her last few months have seen her in the Golden Age Center on Harbor Bay — her room overlooking the Bay where she could watch airplanes take off from Oakland Airport. The administrators, caregivers and clients all came to appreciate her.
A longtime colleague and friend of Carol’s shared this wonderful observation of Sylvia: “Sylvia’s strength was inspiring, and her gracious manners were always a model to follow. I’m sure she is busily arranging Heaven to make it more to her liking.” Amen.
No funeral arrangements are planned. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS), Holy Names University or a charity of your choice.
Greer Family Mortuary and Cremation Services FD 1408