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Betty Hogan, a loving friend and a great, in all senses of the word, grandmother, a former educator, and an outdoors lover, died on November 16, 2022. She was age 94.
Betty was the first to RSVP to a loved one’s event and never missed a birthday. She kept a notebook to organize the birthdays of her 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren. She was adventurous and independent, parasailing on her eightieth birthday, snowmobiling on her ninety-first, and kayaking in the marshes in her beloved Long Island Sound up until her last year. She was an avid biker and x-country skier and loved sunset walks on the jetty a block from her house.
Born Mary Elizabeth Moriarty on March 4, 1928, in Hartford to Daniel and Ethel Hynes Moriarty, Betty had one brother, William. She shared fond memories of a childhood at the beach in Old Saybrook, where her family had a cottage. As a child, she was often sick, once with scarlet fever, and her mom had to homeschool her many months.
Betty graduated from Mt. St. Joseph Academy in 1946 and St. Joseph College with a degree in education in 1950, both in West Hartford.
She met Robert E. Hogan, Jr. in Saybrook Manor when his family rented a cottage across the street from her family’s cottage. They married July 30, 1955, and had three children, James, Mary, and Robert. After Robert died in 1991, she married a family friend, James S. Oleksak, Sr., in 1995. His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren became a second family. James died in 2007.
Betty taught in Wethersfield from 1950–1955 and was a reading specialist in Westfield, Massachusetts, for 28 years. Later, she was a reading tutor in Bradenton, Florida, for 12 years while she lived there during the schoolyear.
She bought her first computer, an Apple 2GS, in 1985 and remained up to date with technology all the way to the smart phone, iPad, and Windows 11. (With many thanks to Lauren Rokosz for help with designing bitmojis), She was active on social media and kept up with friends and family through posting and messages. She used her computer to create personalized cards, which she sent loved ones on all occasions.
When she was in her forties, Betty took a woodworking class and became skilled as a woodworker. She made a dry sink, snack tables, and sconces for her house. She knitted and did beautiful needlepoint and was the mender in the family, everyone dropping off clothes for hemming and fixing until the last year or so.
Betty loved visitors and could make friends anywhere. She enjoyed vacations with her son Jim and his daughter, Christine, visiting Florida, Vermont, and New Hampshire. She was happy being surrounded by children, and they loved her back. She drove great grandkids to the beach and back in her golf cart. They threw her themed birthday parties: Hawaiian luaus, swimming parties, a Frozen party, a Cat in the Hat party.
A voracious reader, especially of biographies and memoirs, she always had books piled in her to-be-read pile and read three–four books per week up until the end of her life. Her librarian daughter, Mary, kept her in supply.
Betty was a Jeopardy fan, and loved ones knew not to call her during an episode. She also enjoyed watching the local magazine news program Mass Appeal, which is hosted by her first husband’s nephew, Patrick Berry, who always gave her a shout-out on her birthday.
She loved Boston cream pie and ice cream. But most of all, she loved party and picnic foods, anything that brought people together.
Betty was the former Secretary of Hampton County Teachers Association and Board Member of the Pioneer Valley Reading Association. She was a parishioner of St. Mary’s Church in Westfield, and was in the first class of Eucharistic Ministers for St. Mary’s.
Betty was especially grateful for the kindness and generosity of her son Bob, who took care of her every need and allowed her to live comfortably in her home during the last few years. He was her caretaker, a chauffeur for her and her friends, her wingman.
Betty is survived by her devoted and caring children, Jim, Mary, and Bob; granddaughter Christine Hogan and fiancé Mike Gage; stepchildren James (Dale) Oleksak, Jr, Stephen (Susan) Oleksak, Nancy (Edward) Morin, Christine Byrne, and Michael (Rita) Oleksak; 14 step grandchildren; and 25 step great grandchildren. She also leaves a sister-in-law, Jane Berry, a dear cousin, Nancy Hild, and many beloved nieces and nephews, including two special nieces, Dr. Anne M. Reiher and M.J. Moriarty. She was preceded in death by her parents, Daniel and Ethel Hynes Moriarty; brother William Moriarty; and two beloved husbands, Robert E. Hogan, Jr. and James S. Oleksak, Sr.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday, November 26 at 10:30 am at St. Mary’s, Westfield. Burial will be private. No flowers please. In Betty’s memory, send donations to St. Vincent DePaul Society c/o St. Mary’s Parish, 30 Bartlett St, Westfield, MA 01085 or a charity of one’s choice. Many thanks to Father John Tuohey and his mother Ursula for their calls, visits and friendship as well as to UCONN Center for Healthy Aging for their kind and compassionate primary care. Firtionadams.com