Obituary of Betty Rae Nealon
Betty Rae Nealon of Media, PA, formerly of Vestal, NY, passed away peacefully on March 3, 2023 following a short illness. She was 94. She was predeceased by her husband, Thomas F. Nealon; her parents, Louis and Helen Ruthven; her brother, Thomas Duffy Ruthven; and one granddaughter, Jacqueline Slawta. She is survived by her children, six daughters, three sons, and their spouses: Liz Nealon (Seymour Simon), Ann Nealon (Debbie Young), Joan Nealon (Errol Griffiths), Kate Slawta (Jim), Mary Rose (Chris), Tom Nealon (Shannon), Sharon Curran (John), Jim Nealon (Susan Toner) and Dennis Nealon (Lynn); 27 grandchildren: Amanda, Kevin, T.J., Kelly, Brendan, Justin, Caroline, Jules, Patrick, Jason, Katie, Jessica, Micaela, Riley, Tommy, Brian, Denny, Megan, Annie, Jack, Kara, Regan, Anna, Ryan, Joseph, Nicholas, and Michael; seven great-grandchildren: Valerie, Shane, Calyn, Grace, Tommy, Audrey, and Carson; her sister, Sherry Snyder; and 21 nieces and nephews.
Betty Rae had a very big heart and there was a special place in that heart for each and every one of her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. They, in turn, had a special place in their hearts for her. She loved attending their sporting events, performances of all kinds, and being with them at family reunions at the lake, weddings, graduations, and other occasions. Her family was the most important thing in her life, and she made sure that they knew it. Her ability to establish and nurture these special and unique relationships with each person was as natural as it was extraordinary. She was much loved by so many.
Betty Rae Ruthven was born in Rochester, N.Y. but grew up in Binghamton. She attended Briarcliff College, and when Binghamton’s first television station, WNBF, started broadcasting live news in 1949, 21-year-old Betty Rae Ruthven was part of the small staff, typing and preparing newscast scripts for air. It was during this time that her friend Jean O’Connor asked if she could introduce her to her cousin, Tom Nealon. Betty Rae agreed, but when Tom called to ask her out on a date, she turned him down, saying that she already had plans to go fishing with her father. Tom wondered why she didn’t invent a more plausible excuse since she obviously didn’t want to go out with him. Fortunately, his cousin Jean persuaded him to try one more time, given that fishing in the Thousand Islands really was something Betty Rae and her father loved to do. They began dating and were married in April 1952. Their 58-year marriage began with a five-year stint in the U.S. Navy, during which time Tom was deployed to Korea. Betty Rae was proud to be a Navy wife, and she and Tom were lifelong friends with Naval Academy classmate Captain Frank Snyder and his wife Margaret Mary.
She was a sports enthusiast who until recently could still hold her own at the ping pong table, and who loved to play golf with Tom after he retired. A devout Catholic, she was a lifelong member of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Vestal, NY, and was most recently a member of and volunteered at the Church of the Holy Child in Wilmington, Delaware. A visitation will be held on Monday, March 13, 2023, 9:30-10:30 am at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, 801 Main Street, Vestal, NY followed by a Funeral Mass at 10:30 am. Interment will follow at Calvary Hill Cemetery, 501 Fairview St., Johnson City, NY.
Online condolences may be made by visiting www.paganofuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to support aged and infirm priests in the Jesuit Province of New Orleans, a ministry supported by Betty Rae and Tom for many years. (https://www.jesuitscentralsouthern.org/support-us/donate-now/)