Elizabeth Anne (Ferriter) Cotter, lovingly referred to as Betsy by her family, died suddenly in her Hollywood, Fla., home on Aug. 19. She was 70.
Betsy was born during a snowstorm on Dec. 28, 1950, to Richard and Eleanor Ferriter in Hull, at the southern edge of the Boston Harbor. She graduated from Notre Dame Academy in 1969. She was a first-rate scholar and an all-state basketball point guard nicknamed “Swish.”
After high school, Betsy attended Boston College, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in education in 1973, finishing third in her class. She also earned her master’s degree in special education at Boston College in 1974. She was always proud to be a member of the first graduating class with open enrollment for women at Boston College. On July 23, 1968, Betsy and Bob Cotter had their first date at the Weymouth drive-in movie theater. Upon graduation from Boston College, they married, honeymooned, and moved to Hawaii where they pursued their careers and started a family.
During 14 years in Hawaii, Betsy was an educator, principal, and ultimately the executive director of the Easter Seals Society of Hawaii. Her mission was to help deaf and blind children of mothers who contracted rubella (German measles) during their first trimester of pregnancy. In this pursuit, Betsy built numerous group homes to house local children in need and raised several million dollars in federal funding to support this cause.
Betsy is survived by her husband of 47 years, Bob Cotter; her children Bob Jr. and his spouse, Madga Brown; Joe and his spouse, Ciara LaVelle; and Colleen. She also is survived by the three sons of her deceased brother, Bob Ferriter, whom Betsy lovingly called “the three bears”: Bob Jr. and his spouse, Esther Kim; Ryan and his fiancé, Sarah Falvey; and Steven and his spouse, Rory Cellucci Ferriter.
According to Betsy, the best title she ever had was Nene, given to her by her oldest grandson, Finley. Betsy loved every second she spent with her grandchildren: Finley, Caidan, and Mia. She also leaves her siblings: Richard and his spouse, Kaye Ferriter; Jim and his spouse, Patti Ferriter; and Ellen (Ferriter) McCallister and her spouse, Kevin McCallister; and their children. And she is survived by numerous in-laws, Cotter outlaws, and too many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends to count. Betsy was considered a second mom to many and opened her door to anyone in need.
While family was clearly Betsy’s favorite passion, she had many others. As a young girl, she was an avid sailor. She was a diehard fan of all Boston sports teams and loved to travel. In her travels she lived on three continents and in six states and built 19 loving homes. Betsy loved chasing rainbows, which brought her to some of the most beautiful beaches all over the world. She enjoyed an occasional day at the races, especially nights at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Happy Valley Racecourse.
Betsy enjoyed volunteering at the International School of Brussels Raider Café and cofounded an annual golf tournament that raised money for ISB athletics. Another passion of Betsy’s was exploring the Irish countryside, especially going to the small town of Baile an Fheirtéaraigh (Ballyferriter), her family’s ancestral home.
She was famous for her red sauce, Nene’s homemade ice cream, her contagious laughter, and her one-liner, “No hooligans pulling shenanigans,” usually directed at the three bears.
There will be a celebration of Betsy’s life on the South Shore on July 23, 2022, the 54th anniversary of Betsy’s and Bob’s first date. Details to come at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Jimmy Fund in Betsy’s honor. The details for her Jimmy Fund giving page can be found on the following link.