SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 7, 2013

M. Elizabeth (Griffen) Wilbert, 96


Salem, MA — Mary Elizabeth Lee “Betty” Wilbert, age 96, wife of the late Rev. William C. Wilbert, Sr., died on Saturday, May 4, 2013, at home. She was the daughter of the late John and Mary (Pennypacker) Griffen of Pittsburgh and St, David’s, Pa. Mrs, Wilbert was an active member of the altar guilds of the Episcopal churches at which her husband served in Pittsburgh, Youngsville, and Monongahela, Pa., and in Mayville, N.Y. She was also a dedicated volunteer for the public libraries in Youngsville and Mayville. Following her husband’s death in 1980, she was the hostess and house manager at the Episcopal Cottage at the Chautauqua Institution, N.Y., for the 1983-1994 summer seasons.

She graduated from The Winchester Girls School, Pittsburgh, in 1935 after attending Highland Hall, Holidaysburg, Pa. In 1937 she was employed at Fidelity Bank and Trust Co., in Pittsburgh, when the waters of the Ohio River rose 80 feet in a great flood, and the bank was inundated. When the waters receded, she was given the task of cleaning items that had been stored in the bank’s safety deposit boxes, washing river mud off stocks, bonds, jewelry and other valuables and hanging them up to dry on lines strung across the walls of the bank’s vault. After World War II, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, she served as a civilian employee of the Ordnance Department of the U.S. Army in Honolulu and San Francisco.

In the early 1960s, as the wife of a newly ordained Episcopal priest, she was active in parish life at All Saints Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, and was a member of the ladies volunteer auxiliary at Allegheny General Hospital. In 1963, after her husband became vicar of St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, Youngsville, she worked as an office assistant for The Youngsville Courier/Warren County Guide, a weekly newspaper, and wrote a popular column of local news called “Bits of Drift”.

Following her move to Salem in 1993, she volunteered at the House of Seven Gables and was a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Marblehead. In retirement, she was a voracious reader and regular patron of the Salem Public Library and an avid bridge player, who particularly enjoyed weekly bridge games with her friends, Mrs. Jane Baker, Mrs. Helen Smith, and Mrs. Julie Taylor. In recent years, she was well and generously supported in her daily activities by Ms. Lee Emmons of Salem, and Mr. Robert Lemelin of Marblehead, without whose support and friendship she could not have lived independently for so long. Her family is very grateful to her physicians, Dr. Yuriy Levin and Dr. Andrew Kemper, and their staffs, for their years of tremendous good care and to the staffs of Salem Hospital, particularly in the emergency department and the cardiac care unit.

She is survived by her daughter, Mary Ramsay “Polly” Wilbert of Salem, Mass.; her son and daughter-in-law, William C. Wilbert, Jr. and Rosemary Harty; and grandchildren, Penn and Amanda (Ferchuk) Wilbert, Quinn Wilbert, and David and Megan (Mullis) Wilbert, all of Annapolis, Md., and John Wilbert of Mayville, N.Y. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Nancy Griffen, of Charleston, S.C.; and 13 nieces and nephews and their families. She was predeceased by her siblings, John, Penn, and William Griffen and Catherine (Griffen) Berry.

ARRANGEMENTS: Services and burial in Youngsville, Pa., will be private. Memorial donations to your local public library may be made in her memory. Arrangements made by Levesque Funeral Home, Salem. For guestbook, please visit www.LevesqueFunerals.com.