- MaVynee Betsch
MaVynee Betsch (1935-2005) was an environmentalist and an activist. She was better known as
The Beach Lady, because she spent the better part of her adult life educating the public on the black historyand environmental importance of American Beach. MaVynee Betsch lived at American Beachon Amelia Island, Florida, the African-American Hyannis port, where the crème de la crème of black society came to relax in the Jim CrowSouth. MaVynee’s millionaire great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, founded the beach, and she was raised in luxury. Her wealth and privilege vanished after she gave away her entire fortune to environmental causes. For further details, see her Sierra ClubProfile [http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200509/madame_butterfly.asp] .
MaVynee was the official historian and matriarch of American Beach and was an important character in American Beach: a Saga of Race, Wealth and Memory by
Russ Rymer. She holds a degree from the Oberlin Conservatoryand sang opera in Europe for many years. She has been featured on CBS, PBS, and NPR, and in such publications as USA Today, the New York Times, and The Smithsonian [http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2003/june/people.php] , as well as many others. She is a member of over sixty different charitable organizations and a lifetime member of ten.
While she lived in American Beach, MaVynee gave visitors a guided walking tour through the eyes of a woman who grew up on the beach during its heyday. She was an animated and colorful woman with a passion for the history and preservation of American Beach.
MaVynee Oshun Betsch died on
September 5, 2005on American Beach. MaVynee may be best remembered for her tireless work and significant success in preserving this special place. Before she died, her conservation efforts were rewarded when National Park status was given to the giant sand dune Nana [http://www.nps.gov/timu/historyculture/ambch.htm] on American Beach [http://www.nps.gov/timu/historyculture/ambch_history.htm] .
She was postumously honored as an Unsung Hero of Compassion [http://www.nowhereathens.com/unsungheroes/index.html] by the
Dalai Lamaon November 12, 2005.
MaVynee is survived by a noteworthy brother and sister. Her sister is Dr.
Johnnetta B. Cole, an anthropologist and the only woman to be president of the two all women black colleges in the United States: Spelman Collegeand Bennett College. Her brother, Johnny Betsch is a jazz musician who lives in Paris. MaVynee Betschand American Beach have inspired two women to create documentaries on the subject. "An American Beach", that focuses on the history of American Beach, with conversations with The Beach Lady. MaVynee is also the subject of The Beach Lady, a feature length documentary.
* [http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=833&category=civicMakers&name=MaVynne%20‘Beach%20Lady’+Betsch History Makers Profile]
* [http://www.nowhereathens.com/beachladynew.html The Beach Lady Website]
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