Elizabeth “Betty” Ruth McKenzie Thiele (87) of Laurel, MD, passed away peacefully on May 16, 2018. Betty was born on April 15, 1931 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to Margaret Jane Anderson and Ralph Waldo Emerson McKenzie both of whom had come to Canada from Scotland after the First World War.
During her high school years, Betty was a member of the school’s ski team and paddled with the canoe club. After her graduation from Glenlawn Collegiate in 1949, Betty attended Provincial Normal School and began teaching in rural farm community outside Winnipeg. Eventually, looking for adventure, she applied to teach in Ft. Churchill a remote military base on shores of the Hudson Bay. There she taught children of military families as well as native Inuit children. Not only did she encounter polar bears in Ft. Churchill, but also a handsome red head with a Texas drawl, Otto. Otto W. Thiele was an American meteorologist doing research for the US Army. A few short months later, in 1958, they were married in Winnipeg, and moved to El Paso, TX, where they started their family of four children.
Betty was a deeply devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and sister. Family was always her primary focus. Otto’s career with NASA moved the family to California, Cape Canaveral, Florida, Argentina, and finally Maryland. Regardless of where they lived, summer vacations were most always spent in Manitoba with their Canadian cousins where many happy memories were made.
Betty attended and was a member of St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Laurel for over 40 years. She belonged to the Afternoon Guild where she made many dear friends. She also faithfully served on the Altar Guild and the Pastoral Care Committee, making dinners for those in need. She volunteered at Elizabeth House, and was also an active member of the Montpelier Homemakers Club and the Montpelier Garden Club.
Betty enjoyed sewing, making clothes for special occasions for herself and her daughters. Before moving her family to Argentina, she sewed almost entire wardrobes for her three daughters! More recently, she spent many years hand sewing beautiful sequined Christmas tree lapel pins for the church’s “Holidays Bazaar”. Betty also enjoyed traveling, painting watercolors, listening to music, theater and afternoon tea. She adored her grandchildren and loved being a part of all of their celebrations. Mostly, Betty enjoyed preparing Sunday dinners for her family.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband, Otto, in 2014. She is survived by her son Richard Thiele (Liz) of Winterville, NC, and daughters Karen Sabins (Mark) of Severna Park, MD, Lynn Cook (Wayne) of Laurel, MD, and Lisa Crosbie (Sean) of Laguna Beach, CA, as well as, her nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. She is also survived by her loving sister Margaret Cordingley of Winnipeg, Manitoba and her sister-in-law Dorothy Thiele of San Angelo, TX.
Memorial gifts may be made to the American Cancer Society or to St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church in Laurel, MD.
Relatives and friends are invited to visit at the Donaldson Funeral Home, P.A. 313 Talbott Avenue Laurel, Maryland 20707 on Thursday, May 24 from 4 until 7 pm. Memorial service will be held at St Philip’s Episcopal Church 522 Main Street Laurel, MD 20707 on Friday May 25 at 1 pm.