Betty M. Massé (1929–2021)
To the Bowdoin community,
I am sorry to report that Betty M. Massé, assistant to the treasurer of the College emerita, passed away in Topsham on Saturday, January 30, 2021, from complications related to COVID-19. She was ninety-one years old.
Betty’s institutional knowledge was indispensable for the operations of the College under five presidents—so much so that she was called upon several times in the years after her 1992 retirement to consult with staff in the treasurer’s office about historical matters.
Betty Mathieson was born in Brunswick on June 13, 1929. She graduated from Fryeburg Academy in 1947. She married Robert Massé in December 1951, and they shared nearly sixty-five years together before his death in 2016.
Betty worked as a clerk-typist at Jay Brush Company in Brunswick from 1947 to 1951 and as a secretary at Bowdoin in 1952. From 1952 to 1956 she worked for a number of resort hotels, and from 1956 to 1959 she was the assistant manager of Lake Logan Lodge-Champion Paper & Fibre Company in Canton, North Carolina.
Betty returned to Brunswick and to Bowdoin in 1960 as an office assistant and was promoted to assistant to the bursar in 1961, to assistant to the business manager in 1970, and subsequently to assistant to the treasurer, the position that she held until her official retirement in 1992. That same year, she received the Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff in recognition of her years of service to the College and the high degree of professionalism that she brought to her work. The citation for the award read, in part, “You have handled with dignity, good nature, and quiet competence much of the College’s personnel work, gifts of securities, dealing with Bowdoin’s investment funds, and compiling annual financial reports and a myriad of complex, but necessary, financial reports for committees of the Governing Boards.” Upon her retirement she was elected an honorary member of the Bowdoin College Alumni Association.
In 2001, the conference room in Ham House was named in Betty’s honor. On that occasion, she was described as “guardian of the College’s institutional history, who remains actively engaged in the operation of the College forty years after she joined the staff and eight years after her official ‘retirement.’” As President Edwards said at the time, “[We] hope that those who meet there will be inspired by the clarity of reasoning, attention to detail, and deep affection for this institution that you have shown for so many years.”
Julianne and I express our sympathies to Betty’s many friends at the College, among our alumni, and within the local community. All those fortunate enough to have known Betty celebrate her life and her legacy with deep gratitude for her dedication to Bowdoin.