In Memory of



Obituary for Elizabeth Rafferty

Elizabeth Rafferty August 20, 1929 - October 30, 2021

Elizabeth Rafferty, aka “Bettina,” 92, passed away peacefully at home on October 30, 2021 in New York City after a long illness.

Bettina was born on August 20, 1929 in Corona, New York to Frederick and Mary (Cusack) Hollingsworth. She is survived by her sisters Agnes Clay, Katherine Piastuch and Joan Vaccari and her five children, Margaret Rafferty (Timothy O'Connor) of New York City, John Rafferty (Amy Schwartz) of Las Vegas, Nevada, James Rafferty (Sarah Sandin) of Nashua, New Hampshire, Joan Rafferty (Norman Campbell) of Callicoon, New York, and Elizabeth Rafferty (Michael Dufresne) of Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

She is also survived and beloved by her nine grandchildren: Bo O’Connor (Tom Nash) of Los Angeles, California, Luke Rafferty of Somerville, Massachusetts, Max Rafferty (Angela Hoxie) of New York City, Thomas Rafferty of Nashua, New Hampshire, Coco Campbell of New York City, Elizabeth Rafferty of Dubuque, Iowa, Harry Rafferty of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Olivia Soares of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Phoebe Rafferty of Berkeley, California.

She is preceded in death by her husband John A. Rafferty and her brothers John, James and Thomas Hollingsworth.

No truer words were said than a quote from her Newtown High School yearbook as “Bright and cheerful, always gay, we’ll take Elizabeth any day.” Bettina always loved driving; her wanderlust was born early. As soon as she could get a license, she hit the road and never looked back. Saving her pennies from her job at Woolworth’s, she bought a small black car she instantly christened “Debbie,” which sat outside her home in Corona and took her to her nearby job with TWA at LaGuardia Airport. Debbie was more than a car to Bettina; it was an extension of herself, and it was always ready to take her wherever she wanted to go. And that was everywhere.

John, a New York City firefighter, and Bettina raised their five children first in Long Island City, then Rosedale, Queens and finally in Greenwood Lake, New York, Greenwood Lake was where they would purchase a house and settle down. Bettina often would say “The move to Greenwood Lake changed the trajectory of our family’s life.” and “It was divine providence that our neighbors were the Welchmans and the Mangiamelis.”

In recognition of her playful spirit, her children lovingly nicknamed their mother “Bettina,” after “get my tea ma” was shortened. After that she was referred to as just “Bettina” by her grandchildren and all she met.

Bettina was a wonderful mother, grandmother and friend. She embraced joy and lived her life with optimism. She provided a caring and loving environment for all who were dear to her.

Bettina was a great cook and mastered the traditional meat and potatoes meals which were wholeheartedly enjoyed by her family. Her beef stew and mashed potatoes rivaled any master chef’s. The kettle was always on and ready for the next cup of tea and in usual Bettina fashion there was always “a little something” sweet to accompany her tea. Bettina also truly enjoyed and expertly did laundry and ironing both when raising her children and when visiting them as adults. She would even fold a crease into a pair of dungarees! She never seemed beleaguered by these tasks but rather, in Hollingsworth style, took pride in the effort.

It was important to Bettina that all her children receive a college education and they all did. Bettina was delighted with her children's and grandchildren's exploits and she cared deeply that they were all safe. Regardless of age or the number of times it had been said before, her last words to all as they walked out the door were always, “Never talk to strangers,” “Hold hands,” “Take care of each other,” or “Lock the doors.”

Bettina loved to sing; her repertoire included: “Young at Heart,” “Cuanto la Gusta,” “The Party’s Over,” and any song from Les Misérables. She would rouse her children with her delightful voice and a cheerful rendition of “Time to get up, we need your bed for the boarder” and “Happy Birthday” in person or over the phone to mark the occasion. Bettina loved to have fun and there was always time for a quick card game or some dancing. She was a devoted fan of old films on Turner Classic Movies, no matter how many viewings she’d seen.

Bettina was an accomplished employee and manager. She joined the Sterling Forest Gardens staff in Tuxedo, New York in 1972 as a server and by 1977 she was the Catering Manager and ran most of the food and beverage operations. Everyone who worked with her and for her loved her. She later joined the United States Postal Service in Central Valley and eventually transferred to Highland Mills, New York and found a new family of coworkers, Esther, Eddie, Fred and June, who became lifelong friends.

In Bettina’s retirement she enjoyed being with her brother Jim and his wife Dorothy in Charleston, South Carolina and helped to care for them during their decline. There was nothing she enjoyed more than embarking on a cross-country trip either by car or by Amtrak for extended stays with her sons in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. When not going out west she traveled the East Coast, dividing her time among her daughters in Callicoon, New York, New York City, and Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Bettina loved the excitement of lottery tickets and casinos and she was always on the hunt for the next opportunity to get to a slot machine wherever she happened to be. She often would hop a bus to Atlantic City with her sister Katherine. They enjoyed many gambling adventures together.

Her family is forever thankful for Peg and Tim who lovingly cared for Bettina in her final years. Also, greatly appreciated is the exceptional round- the- clock care provided by her caregivers Joy Byfield, Grace Glean, Kossiwa Amegadje, Audrey Beecham, Hazel Lewis, Ella Milewska, and Tamara Smith. A special thank you to Bettina’s grandson, Thomas, who cared for Bettina on occasion during her illness. Bettina had the privilege of superb health care provided by her longtime physician, Dr. Peter Zeale, MD. Additionally, Dr. Joyce Fogel, MD and Vanassa Wills, LCSW of Mount. Sinai Senior Health were instrumental in helping to navigate the complex homecare process. Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease and all of her caregivers and medical providers showed tremendous compassion in the care they provided. Their love for Bettina will not be forgotten.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Mercy Center, Bronx, NY and Mount Sinai Senior Health, New York, NY as follows:

Mercy Center
377 East 145th Street
Bronx, NY 10454-1006
718-993-2789 (main number)
646-558-3761 (direct dial)

Mount Sinai Health System
Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai in honor of Joyce Fogel, MD and Vanassa Wills, LMSW or mail checks to The Mount Sinai Health System Office of Development, One Gustave L Levy Place, Box 1049, New York, N. Y 10029.

Services will be held at The Church of St. Francis Xavier, 46 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 on Saturday, December 4th, 2021 at 2:00 PM. There will be a reception immediately following at St. Francis Xavier in Hurtado Hall.