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MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch

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Information about MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch

Profile image of MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Environmental Activist
Opera Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange
Favorite Food:
Bread (Raisin), Garlic, Olives
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Desert
Favorite Quote:
Live Simply So That Others May Simply Live.

Birthplace

Born:
1/13/1935
Birth Location:
Jacksonville, Florida

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Environmental Activist
Opera Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange
Favorite Food:
Bread (Raisin), Garlic, Olives
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Desert
Favorite Quote:
Live Simply So That Others May Simply Live.

Birthplace

Born:
1/13/1935
Birth Location:
Jacksonville
See how MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Environmental activist and opera singer MaVynne “Beach Lady” Betsch was born on January 13, 1935 in Jacksonville, Florida. She was raised in one of the most preeminent black families in the South. Betsch is the daughter of Mary and John Betsch, and the great-granddaughter Abraham Lincoln Lewis, who founded Florida’s oldest African-American beach, and Anne Kingsley, the African American wife of plantation owner Zephaniah Kingsley. Betsch was educated at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. Upon completion of her bachelors’ degree in 1955, she moved to Europe where she was an opera singer for ten years.

Since 1975, Betsch made it her full-time mission to preserve and protect American Beach, her great-grandfather’s investment, from development and destruction. She was famously named “Beach Lady,” for her many efforts and dedication to the beach and its inhabitants. ‘Beach Lady’ gave her life savings, some $750,000, to sixty environmental organizations and causes, ten of which she was a lifetime member, and most of them involved animals. ‘Beach Lady’ was featured on CBS and CNN and in such publications as Coastal Living, Essence, Southern Living, Smithsonian and over twenty-five others. Betsch also dedicated part of her life in convincing others that nature and natural things are fine. ‘Beach Lady’ had natural hair that was grown for over twenty years and measured over seven feet long in some areas; she also had one foot long finger nails on one of her hands, trying to prove that things can grow naturally without protein from meat.

Even after being diagnosed with cancer in 2002, which caused the removal of her stomach, ‘Beach Lady’ continued working hard for causes that benefitted others. She developed plans for the American Beach Museum, opened in 2014, which contains the history of American Beach, the town where she lived many of the years of her life. Betsch never married and never had children. She was the older sister of Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, the first female African American president of Spelman College, and president of Bennett College.

Betsch passed away on September 5, 2005 at age 70.

See how MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch's interview, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch's interview, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch traces her maternal ancestry to Anna and Zephaniah Kingsley in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her paternal German ancestry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch recalls her great-grandfather's summer Sunday ritual of church service followed by a family outing to American Beach
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch details her schooling at Boylan-Haven School in Jacksonville, Florida and Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch makes numerological predictions about the coming year, 2005, based on her beloved great-grandfather's date of birth, 1865
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch lists her siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her family's home at 8th Street and Jefferson Street in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch remembers her sister's violin tutor in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her childhood community in Sugar Hill, Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Jacksonville and American Beach, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes what it was like to grow up in a wealthy African American family during a time of segregation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch explains her great-grandfather's vision for a truly democratic community at American Beach, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her studies and influential teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch remembers her childhood aspirations and influences in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch recalls how her childhood aspirations evolved
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch remembers her audition for 'Salome' in Germany
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her costume and the set during the Dance of the Seven Veils in the opera 'Salome'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch explains that the end of her opera career was the beginning of her mission to save American Beach from white developers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch talks about the rich African American history of Jacksonville and American Beach, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch tells stories from the African American history of Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch talks about the environmental and cultural causes to which she has dedicated her family's wealth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch talks about the importance of history, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch recalls meeting famous jazz musicians while living in Europe in the late 1950s and early 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch explains the significance of her clothing and adornments
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch talks about discovering nature upon her move to Ribault Scenic Drive in Jacksonville, Florida in the 1970s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch explains the links between environmental activism and racial justice
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her plans to travel and advocate for environmental justice
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch talks about the value of helping the community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch talks about the importance of history, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch explains her great-grandfather's philosophy of money and his prominence in the black community of Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch talks about the current state of American Beach, Florida
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch describes her experiences of living in both black and white communities in the United States and Europe
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch talks about her experiences as an opera student in Europe
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - MaVynee "Beach Lady" Betsch narrates her photographs, pt. 2