Devoted sibling, uncle, and friend, Richard died peacefully at home on August 16, 2021. Predeceased by a brother, Roger C. Betts, he is survived by a sister, Carolyn B. Johnston, nephews David R. Betts, Gregory J. Betts, Stephen J. Betts (Sandy), and niece Heather M. Betts.
Richard, known to his family as ‘Rich’ and his friends as ‘Dick’, was born in Morristown, New Jersey. He spent his grade school years in Newton, MA, where he discovered the joy of reading, and then attended high school in Concord, NH. Dick majored in English at Colgate University. There a faculty member inspired him to choose teaching as his career. Officers Candidate School and a tour of active duty in the U.S. Naval Reserve came next. Although a college English major, he valued his assignment to the Naval Astronautics Group, where he helped to develop a satellite navigation system.
After earning a MA and a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania, Dick began teaching at Penn State’s Brandywine Campus in Media. Over the years he taught composition, American Literature, and American Studies, later splitting time as assistant to the chief academic officer for adjunct faculty.
After the 1989 ‘velvet revolution’ which heralded a new era of welcome for English and American Studies in Slovakia, the Brandywine campus began a cooperative program with Matej Bel University and the University of Presov. Dick became very involved in the resulting faculty exchange program, a Fulbright Teaching Grant, and Slovak student summer study stays at Penn State. For several years Dick taught a semester of American literature or American Studies at one of the two universities. He developed close personal relationships with faculty members there, and, after retiring from Penn State, continued to visit and host them, as well as help to edit their various writing projects.
Dick lived in the West Chester, PA area most of his adult life, enjoying the company of his pointers, Lolita and Chachka, and hiking in the many surrounding natural areas. In 2013, he and his sister, Carolyn, moved into the Cartmel retirement community, where he continued to enjoy reading good books, listening to jazz and opera, following the Phillies baseball team, and taking a walk every day. Cartmel residents will long appreciate his contribution to the maintenance of hiking trails in that community.
Services will be private.
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