BANGOR- The force that was Betty Solórzano quietly slipped away on February 19, 2021. She was 98. Betty was born April 8, 1922, in Bangor, Maine, to Norris Everett and Florence (Maddocks) Day. Her given name was Nora Elizabeth, but not a fan of the name Nora, she signed her name N. Elizabeth, leaving the “N” a mystery to many throughout her life. When Betty was four, her parents built the house on the east side of Bangor where she would spend the last three decades of her life. She loved to tell how every child in her kindergarten class pounded a nail in her new home.
Betty attended Bangor public schools and graduated from Bangor High School with the Class of 1940. Always athletic, she attended and graduated from Bouvé College in Boston, Massachusetts, which offered a three-year program for women who wanted to teach physical education. Study involved learning the rules and how to teach 20 different sports! Despite being just 62 inches tall, Betty adored basketball and after college enjoyed playing a year of semi-professional basketball in Jackson, Mississippi. “I got it out of my system,” she would say. Needing to earn more money than semi-pro ball provided, she returned to Bangor and taught girls physical education at Garland Street Junior High School (now William S. Cohen Middle School). For many years, she also coached girls varsity high school basketball teams.
In addition to teaching, Betty served as water safety instructor at the Bangor YMCA. It was while working at the Y that Betty met the new fencing instructor who was living there, Alejandro Solórzano, who had just emigrated from Ecuador. The couple wed on September 29, 1950. They were married for 53 years until Alejandro's death in December, 2003.
Betty left teaching to raise her daughters, Lucia and Carmen, but returned to Garland Street when they were older. She never stopped teaching swimming, however, and taught generations of young people, and later their children, how to swim and often become swim instructors themselves. For nearly 50 years, Betty served as a swim official and diving judge at competitive meets throughout Maine. The Maine State Principals Association honored her with its Outstanding Achievement Award in 1982. In 2004, she was inducted into the Maine State Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame for her dedication to the sport. Betty retired from volunteering as a swim official the winter before she turned 90.
Betty's love of the outdoors drew her to Girl Scouting. When she was 21, she served as trip counselor at Camp Natarswi, the Abnaki Council Girl Scout overnight camp, week after week leading campers up, over, and safely back down Mt. Katahdin. She later served as director of Camp Mary Lou, a Girl Scout day camp on Eddington Pond.
Through Betty's work in physical education, swimming and Girl Scouting, she dedicated her life to improving the lives of youth in Bangor. Rest well, Betty, you deserve it.
Betty was predeceased by her parents; her husband; her sister, Patricia Rowland; and her brother, Robert J. Day. She is survived by her daughter, Lucia Solórzano Work and husband, Clem, of Missoula, Montana; three grandchildren, Alyssa Work and husband, Alex Friedman and daughter, June of New York City; Brendan Work and wife, Jessi Cahoon, and sons, Evyn and Everett, of Missoula, Montana; and Cecily Skye, husband, Louis Lanza, and children, Claire, Zoe, Andrew, and Morgan, of Montrose, California.
She also is survived by her daughter, Dr. Carmen Solórzano of Boston, Massachusetts; four nieces, Valerie Paquette of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Prudence Bradford and husband, Ronald of The Villages, Florida; Diane Cupps and husband, Dennis of Dixmont; and Patience Thibodeau and husband, Joel of Bangor; a nephew, Robert Day and wife, Margie of Exeter, and many great nieces and nephews.
A private interment has already been held at Pine Grove Cemetery, Bangor. A memorial service to celebrate Betty's remarkable life will be held in summer 2021. Heartfelt thanks go the wonderful team of caregivers who enabled Betty to spend her final years in her beloved childhood home. Friends who wish may donate in Betty's memory to the Bangor Humane Society, 693 Mt. Hope Ave., Bangor, Maine, 04401. Condolences to the family may be expressed at BrookingsSmith.com