Betsy Young remembered with scholarship dinner

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OCEAN CITY — She had a smile that lit up every room she entered; with her bright, sunny disposition she befriended everyone she met.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Young passed away on Aug. 29, 2011 after a lengthy battle with gliobastoma, a brain tumor, but thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers, her spirit, smile and laughter will live on with the non-profit “Betsy Young Memorial Fund.”

With the motto “Never live a day without music in your heart,” the legacy of the Ocean City High School graduate and longtime music teacher at the Ocean City Intermediate School will be remembered 5:30 p.m. April 20 with the second annual Betsy Young Memorial Dinner inside the Intermediate School, 18th Street and Bay Avenue.

There will be musical entertainment, food and merriment. The band ResoNation, featuring Dean Howey, Andy Wiggins, Pat Birk and David McKinley, will perform in addition to the eighth grade band. Channel 40 sportscaster Pete Thomason will also be on hand.

Funding raised through the event will go towards a scholarship for an OCHS music student. The scholarship will be open to band, choir and musical theater students; those interested in applying for the scholarship will be asked to write a 250- to 500-word essay explaining how music played an important part in their life and how they plan to use the gift of music to brighten the world for others in the future.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Amanda Thomas, a former student of Young’s who is organizing the event. “This is the best way we can think of to honor Betsy. The scholarship will give a student each year an opportunity for higher learning. The student who wins has an opportunity to join our board of directors.

“Betsy loved music, but she also loved sporting events and any other kind of activity. She loved music and she loved people, she would definitely have enjoyed a night of fun and entertainment.”

Thomas said Young would have been honored to have a scholarship awarded in her memory, too.

“Betsy was very close to me,” she said. “I played the flute for nine years, she taught me everything. She was a teacher, friend and mentor. You could talk to her about anything.

“She was very generous; she donated her time and talents, as a teacher, as a chaperone or parent. She was there whenever you needed her.”

Baton in hand, Young led the band and everything musical at the school she called home for so many years. Former principal Pamela Vaughan said she was “a very special lady.”

“It was interesting to watch the children come into the school in fourth grade and play an instrument for the first time and see how they progressed,” she said. “Her smile was electrifying, the children just loved her. She was just a fabulous teacher, a fabulous person.”

Vaughan said Young was a “caring, dedicated and hands-on” teacher, a role model for others. She was voted teacher of the year in 2007. Spreading her joy for music was one thing she set out to do every day, Vaughan said.

“She reached out, she made sure that she touched every student in some way, every day,” Vaughan said. “She was such an inspiration.”

Young was diagnosed with glioblastoma in June 2010 after suffering a migraine headache during the last week of school.

An MRI at Shore Memorial Hospital revealed the brain tumor; by morning she was in surgery in Philadelphia.

As a longtime member of St. Peter's United Methodist Church, she sang in the choir, sometimes accompanying with piano and flute. She taught Sunday school and Junior church, became a Sunday school superintendent with her sister and directed Cherub choirs, church bands and Christmas pageants.

Pastor Brian Roberts said Young, who sang in the choir as a child, enjoyed spreading her love of music.

“She was such a gifted person,” Roberts said. “She had such a passion for stirring music in children. She touched a lot of lives and brought out the best in each of the children, no matter their ability. Betsy was able to discover their gifts, and encourage them. She organized all the music for our special events.”

Throughout her illness, Roberts said Young relied on her “deep sense of faith” and never gave up hope.

“No matter what, she always had a big smile,” he said. “She had great determination, she never gave up.”

She also taught privately for many years. Roberts said she touched the lives of not just thousands of students over the years, but the community. It was the community, he said, the church and school families to whom she gave so freely, that rallied around her during her illness.

The former Betsy Boccelli grew up in a musical family. Her father, Richard Boccelli was the drummer for Bill Haley and His Comets. Her grandfather was an opera singer.

Young studied piano with the late Esther Weil and Olga Buttle and played the flute and piccolo in the OCHS band under the direction of Warren Miller. She graduated from OCHS in 1979, headed for West Chester University where she majored in music education.

She returned to Ocean City, serving as the organist for the Seaville United Methodist Church and taught music at the Upper Township Elementary School. In 1985, she married Barry Young and started a family.

In 1997, Young was hired to lead the band and orchestra at the Ocean City Intermediate School.

Roberts said Young was sadly missed at St. Peter’s, but her “legacy will live on” as she touched so many lives and “blessed the world with two wonderful daughters.”


If You Go

Betsy Young Memorial Scholarship Dinner
5:30 p.m. Friday, April 20
Ocean City Intermediate School, 18th Street and Bay Avenue
Dinner, dessert, door prizes, live music and 95.1 WAYV
Food donated by Piccini's, Nonna's Trattatoria and Pizzeria, John and Patty's, and Boyar's Market
$12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors
includes salad, entree, dessert, beverage and a seat to see ResoNation and the Ocean City Intermediate School Band
All proceeds benefit the Betsy Young Scholarship given to a local student this June
For more information, call 233-9020

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