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Elizabeth (Lindgren) Nicholson

January 20, 1927 ~ May 29, 2020 (age 93)

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On Friday, May 29, 2020, Elizabeth (Betty) L Nicholson, passed away in Richton Park at the age of 93.

Betty was born on January 20, 1927 in New York City to John (Arthur) Lindgren and Helen Smith. She was raised in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. She reminded me, on occasion, that her’s was the same neighborhood as Frank Sinatra’s.  During high school she composed poetry and sang soprano. One of her proudest moments was performing as a teenager with her choir at Carnegie Hall.  After her high school graduation she worked in New York City to save up to attend Allegheny College. She joined the renowned Allegheny Singers and met her future husband, Richard there.  They married in 1949.  They raised a son, Charles, and two daughters, Julia and Suzanne.

For most of the 1950’s, Betty lived the life of an Army officer’s wife. In 1958, Richard decided to change careers.  Starting with a move from Ft. Leonard Wood to Omaha followed by stints in Kansas and Indiana (where Richard earned his PHD in Psychology) then winding up back in Omaha in 1963. During those Omaha University years, Betty worked part-time to put Richard “through school” while homemaking and raising the children. Still in her 30’s, she made numerous friends, socialized with academics (she loved to name drop “B.F. Skinner,”) and took a world champion martial artist (H.U. Lee) into her home.  Master Lee called her every Christmas for the rest of his life.

In 1967, the family was again uprooted when Richard began a consultancy in NYC.  Less than a year later, he accepted a job offer at Standard Oil in Chicago. Arriving in the spring of 1968, we settled in  Park Forest.  There, Betty quickly adapted to the open and diverse atmosphere of the Coops. To this day, her friends  reminisce about those idyllic area-B days. 

In 1974, after 25 years of marriage, Betty divorced and found herself living with her daughter, Suzanne. Undaunted, she obtained her real-estate license and went to work.  That led to her job with the Housing Service. There she coordinated and oversaw numerous “rehab” projects.  One of those projects led to her acquisition of her “little home” in Richton Park.  Later, Betty got the chance to apply her people and practical skills at a new job with Able. There, in her capacity as educator, trainer, and counselor she and her coworkers helped area job-seekers improve their skills. She felt  so rewarded when a “student” told her that they were newly employed.

In 1988 Betty and Suzy relocated from the Coops to Richton Park in order to care for Betty’s 93 year old mother, Helen.  While Suzy was busy care-giving, Betty continued working.  After Helen died in 1998 at the age of 103, Betty assumed the role of the family matriarch and historian. When she was 77, her job relocated to downtown Chicago.  It was then that she reluctantly decided to retire.

Betty spent her later years self-educating, participating in the Red Hats, visiting with friends, and hosting holiday gatherings. Betty loved decorating her little house for the seasons. She also spent endless hours gardening and admiring nature. Her favorite spring flowers were the daffodils that bloomed in her front yard. She and Suzy loved feeding and watching the birds raise their offspring in the birdhouses situated throughout the property.

Betty was an incorrigible optimist. She was a self-proclaimed "people person." She believed in the basic goodness of mankind.  She had an outgoing personality and a welcoming spirit. One of the last things she said to me was:  “Look,  can’t you see it?” “What?” I asked her. “Everything,” she said - “Isn’t  life beautiful?”

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