Catherine Mary (Ross) Bettencourt, 82, of Raynham, MA and Jamestown, RI, passed away peacefully at home after a long and graceful struggle with illness on Thursday, September 30.
She was born in Providence, RI on August 12, 1939, the first child of Dorothea (McEntee) and Thomas Ross. The Ross family later welcomed Anne (Catherine’s sister) and Thomas, Jr. (her brother). Catherine’s life, animated by faith, joy and love, was full from her very first days by what she cherished most – her family. Her early years were shaped by her parents, siblings, grandparents (Owen McEntee and Edward and Anna Ross), the extended Ross, McEntee and Maguire families, the Sixth Street crew, her St. Raymond’s School classmates and her treasured friends in her beloved Jamestown, RI. In her inimitable way, Catherine was a part of all whom she had met throughout her life. Until her last days on this earth, she nurtured loving relationships with those who shaped her early years.
With her parents and siblings, Catherine moved to Springfield, MA, where she attended Cathedral High School, and then to Pittsfield, MA, where she attended and in 1957 graduated from St. Joseph High School. In the Fall of 1957, she enrolled in Regis College in Weston, MA, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (Class of 1961) and more importantly forged friendships and fostered a sisterhood that thrived for over 60 years and through all of the seasons of life. In literally her last days, she mustered the strength to spend some time with “the Regis girls,” whom she counted among her many great blessings in life.
For Catherine, Regis College opened two doors that shaped her adult life. After graduation, in September 1961, she began her primary and elementary school teaching career in the Middleborough, MA public schools. During her career, Catherine worked in the Education Department of Stonehill College in North Easton, MA supervising student teachers. The culmination of her teaching career, without a doubt, was her several years teaching Fourth Grade at the Lillie B. Merrill Elementary School in Raynham, MA. She treasured the time she spent, the life-long friendships she made and the students she met (and quickly came to love) at Merrill School and in the Raynham Public Schools.
For her 60 years after graduating from Regis, whether as wife, mother, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, friend or Mrs. B., she was always a teacher. Her lessons were informed by the wisdom that is earned only through listening, understanding, empathy and compassion, and were seasoned with the insights gained through the love of reading and poetry, and with the Irish sensibilities, imparted to her by her parents. She genuinely loved her students and aspired to be worthy of her part in each of their lives. She never had “former students.” When you became one of Mrs. B’s students, you were forever one of her students. Long after retiring, Catherine reveled in the unannounced visit at her home of, or the chance meeting with, one of her students.
More impactfully, through a Regis classmate, Catherine connected with her beloved Joe – Joseph A. Bettencourt, Sr. Through more than 58 years of marriage, Catherine and Joe made a family as well a positive and lasting impact on the communities to which they dedicated their lives – the Town of Raynham, St. Ann’s Catholic Church (in Raynham, MA), Coyle-Cassidy High School and, in retirement, the Town of Jamestown, among others. For nearly six decades, they loved together, they laughed together, they cried together and, when circumstances required, they lifted up the other. Their deep, abiding and tender love and their commitment to one another were never more evident than when the frailties of aging crept into their life.
Catherine and Joe were married on August 17, 1963. Their family grew in 1964 when they welcomed their first child, Joseph Jr. (Jay), and in 1965 with the arrival of their first daughter, Mary, and again in 1969 when their younger son, Mark, was born, and yet again in 1972 when Suzanne, their youngest child, made the family complete. Catherine and Joe were later blessed with two incredible daughters-in-law (Kelly and Kristen Bettencourt) and nine grandchildren – Daniel, Brendan, Catherine, Madison, Aidan, Maeve and Ryan Bettencourt, and Caroline and Owen Haynes. Of all of the responsibilities she eagerly embraced throughout her life, Catherine relished most being a mother and grandmother. Each of her children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren gave her joy in a different and unique way. In a lifetime of deep and lasting relationships, Catherine loved her husband, children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren so completely that each feels like she/he was her favorite. On this point, the only concession that any member of Catherine’s immediate clan is willing to make is that Joe was her favorite husband.
Catherine and Joe surrounded themselves, and their children and grandchildren, with Catherine’s parents until their deaths and with loving aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends. They anchored their family on Weonit Court in Raynham, MA for 44 years and in the King Street/Weonit Court neighborhood full of so much more than neighbors. Raising their children to adulthood with, introducing their grandchildren and others to, and sharing life – both its sweet and its bitter – with the King Street gang was truly one of the privileges of Catherine’s life. There are Merritt’s, Asnes’, Santos’, Ennis’, Dion’s, Anderson’s, Correira’s and many more with a guardian angel looking out for them.
Wherever one would find Catherine, and especially when found on her front-porch rocker in Jamestown, RI, one would hear a recent tale of a someone she held dear. She regarded her ability to share her multitude of family, loved ones, friends and other blessings as her greatest blessing. In her heart, she believed she was the most blessed person to ever live. As she looked out over Howland Avenue in Jamestown, RI, you could not help but see, in the sparkle of her deep blue eyes and in her wide smile, the expression of someone who felt like she won the lottery of life. Catherine’s deep Roman Catholic faith imbued her with unshakeable belief in the Holy Trinity and earning eternal life after death in heaven. Her Rhode Island roots grounded her in the belief that Jamestown was heaven on earth and, since 1945, she spent every summer in that heaven. Many of her fondest memories involved her summers in Jamestown and her fondest memories of Jamestown included her extended family – and particularly Anne and Neale Baxter (her sister and brother-in-law) and their children Thomas and Kathleen, and Thomas and Barbara Ross (her brother and sister-in-law) and their children Shayna and Nathan.
To Catherine, family was a feeling to be expressed as much as a relationship by blood or marriage. Her nieces and nephews thought of her as a second mother. Close family friends lovingly referred to her as Aunt Cathy. Students, and her children’s and grandchildren’s friends, affectionally called her Mrs. B. She was a part of all whom she had met throughout her life and so many of those were a part of her family. Joe, Jay, Mary, Mark and Sue pray that Catherine’s memory is a blessing to all, and that her love and spirt inspire and continue in the extraordinary acts of kindness that made her life so consequential to so many.
All are invited to attend a time of visitation on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM at Silva Funeral Home, 80 Broadway (at St. Mary’s Square), Taunton, MA 02780. Additional parking with handicap access is located on the North side of the funeral home.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 12:00 noon at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 660 North Main Street, Raynham, MA 02767. (Please meet at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, prior to the Mass, at 11:30 AM.)
Interment will follow at St. Joseph Cemetery in Taunton, MA.
All are kindly asked to wear a facial covering.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Regis College (www.regiscollege.edu) in Catherine’s memory.
For expressions of sympathy, to sign an online guestbook or to light a memorial candle, visit www.silvafuneralhome.com.
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