Elizabeth Marie (Postupack) Ripsom, 92, of Chelmsford, MA, entered into her heavenly rest at Tufts Medical Center, Boston on October 25, 2023, surrounded by her loving family. Born on March 19, 1931, in Weatherly, PA. Betty was the youngest of 9 children born to the late Michael and Mary (Katerchek) Postupack of Poland and the Ukraine. Betty graduated from Weatherly High School in 1949 and McCann Business School, Hazleton, PA in 1951. After receiving her Business Certificate, Betty moved to Washington, DC to work for the Department of the Navy in the Budgets and Boats and Small Crafts Departments. While in DC, Betty met George A. Ripsom, the love of her life, whom she married on May 8, 1954.
In their almost 70 years of marriage, Betty and George raised four children and made more than 30 moves to homes located in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts and Kwajalein, Marshall Islands in support of George’s education at Penn State and U Penn, and assignments with the US Navy, RCA, and Raytheon. After settling in Chelmsford Farms II in 1964, Betty spent the next 60 years refining her knowledge of horticulture earning academic credits, and a certification as a Landscape Design Critic; serving as a judge at sanctioned Flower Shows; planting a historically-accurate colonial herb garden at the “Old Chelmsford” Garrison House; and cultivating beautiful gardens featuring hostas, irises and day lilies around her home.
Nearly six decades of participation in the Lazy Daisy Garden Club earned her more friends and led to additional community service projects. One of her favorites was bringing flowers and various holiday-themed containers to Sunny Acres Nursing Home where the residents could make their own arrangements and keep them to cheer up their rooms. In 2021 in the height of COVID19 isolation, Club members surprised Betty with a 90th Birthday Parade of vehicles decorated with balloons and signs of good wishes that circled past the Ripsom home and dropped off multiple beautiful floral tributes to brightened Betty's home.
Affectionately known as the "Pencil Lady" by neighborhood children, for almost 60 years Betty gave out unique, brightly-colored pencils at Halloween. On this first Halloween after her passing, George continued her tradition.
In the pre-computer era, Betty used library sources to research and coordinate the many miles of her family’s never-ending educational odyssey which included traveling to all 50 states, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Guam, Micronesia, and Europe. A voracious reader and student of history, horticulture, garden, and urban design, she earned credits for professional courses in various subject areas, as well as studying for several semesters at Middlesex Community College.
Betty’s abundant energy was not limited to home, travel, classes, and hobbies. For nearly 50 years, Betty organized fundraising events for the annual Navy League of the United States “Toys for Tots” Campaign. She received several commendations from the Commandant, Naval District Boston, for her voluntary contributions of time and talent that ensured the success of these campaigns. In the 1990s she added “local official” to her resume, as voters elected her to the first of many consecutive terms as a Precinct Representative to Chelmsford’s Town Meeting.
While living on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands in the late 1960s, Betty served as a leader of Girl Scout Troops on Foreign Soil (TOFS). She continued leading Girl Scout and then expanded to Boy Scout Troops after returning to Chelmsford in the early 1970s. While accompanying Scouts on a tour of the “Old Chelmsford” Garrison House built in 1690, she was introduced to what would become the great passion of her life. For the next 52 years, she regularly donned a long purple dress and mob cap to churn butter, dip candles, and teach other essential colonial skills to local school children, and demonstrated the proper use of rare antique farm implements for Sunday visitors to the barn. During those years she was a founding member and 3-time President of the Garrison House Guild, the essential cadre of volunteer workers who supported the Garrison House Association directors in maintaining the structures, grounds, and exhibits, and presenting such programs as “A Day in the Life of a Colonial Child”, the immersive educational experience created for local 2nd grade classes. Betty was particularly proud of her role in leading the Guild workers in successful fundraising activities that helped the Association to purchase a large parcel of land adjacent to their original property, thereby rescuing it from developers’ intent on building a multi-unit housing complex behind the historic house and barn. Some of her favorite contributions included editor of the well-received collectors’ series of Garrison House members’ favorite recipes, and founder and coordinator for 18 of 35 annual sessions of Summer History Camp. She was also Chairperson of several successful events, including a juried Flower Show, a Student Art Competition with entries juxtaposed against the worn walls in the house and barn, a runway show of “Fashions through American History”, historic exhibitions of “Hats, Hats, Hats” and of exotic treasures from “Hawaii and Beyond,” and a beautiful collection of Wedding Gowns with local connections, including the gown which she wore to wed George in a traditional Ukrainian Catholic Service at her family church in McAdoo, PA.
Betty and George often attended St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Salem. There she enjoyed hearing the traditional hymns that her mother had sung to her in their native language. She also enjoyed her esteemed position of a senior Baba (grandmother) in her Church and as the matriarch of the Michael Postupack branch of the Postupack Family Association.
Betty was predeceased by her parents, siblings and children, Cheryl D. (David) Massey and George A. Ripsom Jr. She is survived by George, her loving husband of nearly 70 years; daughters, Margaret (Arthur) Bleau of Plymouth, MA, and Lissa Ripsom of Richmond, VA; grandchildren, Jason Dublin of Swampscott, MA, Benjamin (Audrey) Bleau of Swansea, MA, Taylor A. Harris of Richmond, VA, and Hunter Ripsom-Gardiner of N. Andover, MA; great grandchildren, Leilana Brown, Nedalye Brown, and Benjamin Bleau; and many special nieces, nephews, and friends here and abroad. All will miss Betty’s cheerful smile and amazing stories.
Visiting Hours will be held on Sunday, November 5, 2023 from 2 to 5PM at the Blake Chelmsford Funeral Home, 24 Worthen St., Chelmsford. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, November 6th, at 11AM at St. Mary Parish, 25 North Rd., Chelmsford. KINDLY GATHER AT THE CHURCH. A co-interment for Betty and Cheryl Massey will follow in Pine Ridge Cemetery, 130 Billerica Rd., Chelmsford. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to the Old Chelmsford Garrison House Association, P.O. Box 161, Chelmsford, MA 01824.