Betty passed away peacefully on Jan. 8, 2020, after a full life of family, travel and enjoying views of the Bay. She was born on Aug. 23, 1924 in Portsmouth, Ohio, the oldest of five children in the musical Lamm family. With her father, Ancel, on the guitar, and her mother, Olive, on the mandolin, Betty played the ukulele, sang and danced as “Little Betty Jean.” She went to Wilmington College before graduating from Ohio State and working at Proctor and Gamble. She met Lieutenant Robert Charles Hays, the love of her life, at a USO dance, and they married before he was shipped out to Tsingtao, China, where she joined him shortly afterwards. Their son, Robert David Hays, was born there, and at six months old, he and Betty returned to the states when fighting broke out in Korea.
Betty and Robert Charles were married only four short years before he was killed fighting in Korea. They had planned to move to Florida when he finished his service, so she and her young son moved to Oldsmar in 1951, where she built a house facing the Bay and lived there until her death. When her son left for college, she went back to University of South Florida where she earned a master’s degree in gerontology, and then worked for the federal Office on Aging for 15 years. This enabled her to move closer to her son and his family first in Atlanta and then in Washington, D.C., where she became a grandmother to her two greatly loved granddaughters. She retired and moved back to her home in Oldsmar after a hurricane in 1986. She was a pioneer in the area and took pride in mowing her own lawn until the age of 94.
She loved traveling, and visited five continents, mostly on her own but sometimes with the Friendship Force. Her favorite travels involved family, and she returned often to Ohio to see her sisters, Fern and Wanda, and her brothers, Lanny and Tom and her many nieces and nephews there. She planned special cross-country trips with her granddaughters, Lindsay and Brooks, and she joined Robert David and her daughter-in-law, Lynn, on many, many family vacations. Robert David tragically died in 2011, and Betty and Lynn grew even closer. Together they visited Hays family in Washington, D.C., Lamm family in Ohio, Brooks in London, New York and San Francisco, and celebrated Lindsay’s marriage to Brent Tweddle. Betty became a great-grandmother to Mackenzie and Gavin, and took great delight in this next generation.
Betty is predeceased by her husband, Robert Charles Hays, and her son, Robert David Hays, and by her sister, Fern Miller, and her brother, Tom Lamm. Surviving to carry on her legacy are her granddaughters, Brooks Hays and Lindsay Hays, her daughter (in-law) Lynn, her two great-grandchildren, and her sister, Wanda Endlich and brother, Lanny Lamm.
She will be buried next to her husband at Arlington Cemetery, but an informal visitation will be held at Holloway Funeral Home in Oldsmar on Saturday, Jan. 11, from 10:30 – noon. Please no flowers. Simply drop by if you’d like to pay respects or meet her granddaughters.
To send flowers to Betty's family, please visit our floral section.