Gracious, generous, courageous and compassionate, devoted to family and friends, and strong supporter of the Seattle arts community, Betty (Elizabeth Ann Petri) Hedreen died on January 29, 2022, in Kahului, Maui, at age 85.
Born August 28, 1936 in Tacoma, WA, daughter of Michael John Petri, owner of the Tacoma Kelly Springfield franchise, and Mary Teresa (Doyle) Petri, instructor of nursing at St. Joseph's Hospital. Betty was at St. Patrick's Grade School and St. Thomas Aquinas Academy high school in Tacoma. After a gap year with the Sisters of St. Dominic, Betty enrolled as an undergraduate at Seattle University, where she met Richard Castle Hedreen, an engineering student at the University of Washington. On October 26,1957, Betty and Dick married and, after a brief stint in Dallas, settled in the greater Seattle area, where they raised a family. In her twenties, Betty was an avid skier and competitive tennis player. The greatest joy of Betty's life was her family. She was a dedicated mother to her four children, and, later, an enthusiastic and inspirational grandmother to eleven grandchildren.
In the early 1970s, Betty was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This debilitating, degenerative disease was met by Betty with determination and resilience, uncomplaining disposition, and a daring willingness to take a chance on a new treatment. MS significantly impeded Betty's mobility, ended her athletic activities, but it seemed to make hardly a dent in her spirit. With the tireless support, love, and dedication of her husband, Betty successfully fought her disease for fifty-five years, in part by joining a trial for the then-experimental treatment, glatiramer acetate. Her achievement, as much psychological as physical, was honored in 2004 with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Hope Award, a fittingly titled award, for Betty was an embodiment of hope for many newly diagnosed MS patients, whom she regularly counseled. Betty generously gave back to the MS community. She served on the advisory council of the National MS Society, Washington chapter. She and Dick were co-lead-donors in 2012 on the new MS Center at Swedish Hospital, now a leading center for MS research and treatment.
Unable to participate physically in many activities, Betty directed her boundless energy into other causes. In 1979, one year after its foundation, Betty joined the Seattle Chapter of ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists), and remained actively involved throughout her life. She hosted an ARCS auction, served on the membership committee, was a director at large for several years, and worked on programs outreach and member memorials and tributes. Together, Betty and Dick generously contributed to several ARCS fellowships over the years, to support graduate education in the sciences. The organization honored Betty's long tenure by nominating her for the ARCS Light award for outstanding service.
Perhaps the field in which Betty made her most lasting contribution was in the visual arts. "Few people in Seattle have been as integral to the growth and success of the Seattle Art Museum as Betty Hedreen," according to Amada Cruz, director and CEO. Betty's children remember her studying to become a docent at the museum in the mid-1970s. She was a founding member of the Contemporary Collectors Forum in 1983, and a founding member of SAMS (Seattle Art Museum Supporters) in 1985. She became a member of the board of trustees in 1990, serving as vice president from 1994-1998, and chairing the board's governance committee in 1997. During her many years of service on the board, Betty was a member of the executive, collections, nominating, and executive search committees. Betty was one of the museum's most active fundraisers, and helped raise the funds for the new downtown museum facility in 1991, its expansion in 2007, and the Olympic Sculpture Park. In 2017, Betty was elected honorary trustee for life, "a title awarded to those who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the museum."
Together, Betty and her husband Dick built an extraordinary collection of old master, modern, and contemporary art. It is one of the great private collections in the United States. They have made numerous and significant gifts of artworks to many institutions, including the Seattle Art Museum and Seattle University, as well as the National Gallery in Washington. Both the Seattle Art Museum and Seattle University have galleries bearing Betty and Dick's names. Betty also supported the Tacoma Art Museum and the Henry Gallery of the University of Washington. She and Dick were active members of the Museum of Modern Art's International Council and the Trustee Council of the National Gallery of Art. Hundreds of people can speak of the enjoyment they experienced looking at and talking about the collection with Betty and Dick at their gracious gallery home in Seattle.
Betty was a longtime supporter of the Seattle Repertory Theatre, honored in 1987 with the organization's Distinguished Service Award, and a member of the Genevieve Henry group at the Seattle Children's Hospital for over sixty years.
A devout catholic, Betty was a parishioner and a substantial supporter of St. James' Cathedral in Seattle, as well as the modern chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University, both of which she loved. Betty was a generous supporter of many catholic organizations, including Catholic Community Services, Sisters of St. Dominic, and Bellermine Prep. Betty's long-term relationship with the Jesuit university, Seattle U, was honored in 2011 with the Alumna of the Year award. Betty's faith was deep but worn lightly. Her life, confronted with major challenges, was infused by a sense of being in the hands of a caring creator who would never let her down. The result, as her family and her many friends will attest, was a remarkable ability to quietly push the fear to one side and find the joy in life.
Betty is survived by two sisters, Joan Imhof and Bernie Piscatella, four children, Guy, Betsy, Carl, and Jane, and eleven grandchildren, Estelle, Olivia, Guy, Rose, Ricky, Graham, Ellie, Clayton, George, Gavin, and Frances.
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Care & Arrangements entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home of Seattle, Washington
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