RIP, Betty Wynn

When I was a student at Washington University, a homeless brother and sister, Betty and Sam, were something of an institution on campus. I’d seen them around, but it wasn’t until I began volunteering for the student movie group, Filmboard, that I really got to talk to them, since the balcony from which movies were projected–and where Filmboard members could watch movies for free–was one of their many hangouts. (They could also be found at various symposiums and other events on campus, especially if food was being served.)

Betty was interesting, sociable, literate, bitter about the state of the larger world (this was in the Reagan/Bush era). She could hold a conversation about just about anything. Talking to her was delightful, especially if you were a college student already heady with the sort of wide-ranging discussions that take place on a college campus. Sam was quieter, somewhat in Betty’s shadow. They were almost always together.

They were old even then, to my barely-an-adult student eyes. I’ve occasionally wondered what’s happened to them through the years.

Then today, a friend forwarded an article to me, and I learned that Betty died just a few days ago, in her 90s. And also that she and Sam did have a home of sorts; I don’t know if they came to it before or after I was on campus.

I don’t know that anyone, except for Sam, knew Betty well, for all the hours we spent talking to her; she never talked about her own life, only about the larger world. She was very much a part of campus life, though. And she’ll be missed there.

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