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Betsy Heath Seward Wilshire
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Obituary for Betsy Heath Seward Wilshire

Betsy Heath Seward Wilshire, aged 88, and known affectionately to her friends as Betsy Heath and to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as Nandy, died peacefully in Virginia Beach, VA, on July 8, 2018, after a brief illness.

Born in Petersburg, Virginia to Bernard Jackson Seward and Ophelia Short Seward just two weeks prior to the spectacular 1929 stock market crash that defined a generation, Betsy Heath steadfastly denied any connection between her birth and this infamous end to the roaring 20s. She was a graduate of The Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, and attended Mary Baldwin College in Stauton, VA.

Despite the unfortunate timing of her birth, she was in fact an astute investor, having learned from her beloved father the importance of patience, a good dividend, and solid balance sheet. Of her many accomplishments, she was most proud of her role in founding the Women’s Investment Group in Virginia Beach. She also was proud of her role as the only female board member of the Comfort Inn Oceanfront, then owned by Bruce Thompson’s Gold Key PHR Hotels and Resorts.

Always the extrovert, Betsy Heath loved people, parties, music, games, and dancing. She takes with her, however, an inexplicable fondness for the music of Yanni. She will be remembered as the life of the party, always with an infectious smile, a contagious laugh, and a mischievous twinkle.

She loved golf despite an early lesson in the unforgiving nature of the game. As a novice she was pressed into service when the Petersburg Country Club was a person short heading into a match against Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville. She carded what she described as a mortifying 136 on Farmington’s hilly course, but overcame that tough day to enjoy the game for many decades. She became the chairperson of the Women’s Golf Association of The Country Club of Petersburg and played in many other state team matches, never again recording such a score. She also was a longtime golfing member of the Princess Anne Country Club in Virginia Beach.

Her other hobbies, which she took up later in life, were gardening and bridge. In one of her life’s more remarkable twists, in 1973, she was overcome by an irresistible urge to take up gardening, her previous experience with horticulture having been limited to the purchase of plastic plants at the local department store. She was certain that this unexpected development was a gift from her sister, who died in January of the same year. She was a member of the Petersburg Garden Club and later was a graduate of the first Master Gardener course in Tidewater. Roses were her specialty.

She enjoyed many years of party bridge and in 1995 discovered Duplicate Bridge. She joined the American Contract Bridge League and attained the rank of Ruby Life Master. She was a founding member of Virginia Beach’s Bridge Center. She enjoyed bridge cruises, which combined her loves of bridge, travel, and the 24-hour buffet.

She is predeceased by her parents, her only sibling, Susan Seward Vick, all of Petersburg, VA, as well as her two husbands, Edwin Branch Totty, Jr., of Petersburg and William Murray Wilshire, Jr., of Cambridge, MA.

Her children, Susan Totty of Richmond, VA, Patricia Totty Sauer and her husband, Conrad, also of Richmond, and Bernard Seward Totty and his wife, Shannon, of Lexington, KY, survive her. She also is survived by her grandchildren, Ashley Sauer Oswalt and her husband, Guy, of Mobile, AL, Jennifer Sauer Holladay and her husband, Whit, of Chicago, IL, Lindsey King O’Brien and her husband, Keith, of Midlothian, VA, Jackson Seward Totty of Austin, TX, Ann Caroline Totty and Alexander Branch Totty of Lexington, KY and five grandchildren, Coleman and Grace Oswalt, Kate and Whit Holladay, and Maddie O’Brien.

A private family burial at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg will be followed by a memorial service at Westminster-Canterbury Chapel in Virginia Beach. Those arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made to the Westminster-Canterbury on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 3100 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23451. Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Great Neck Chapel assisting the family. Online condolences may be offered to the family at www.hollomon-brown.com


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Westminster-Canterbury Foundation

3100 Shore Drive
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451
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