Tomorrow, Betty Dorfman turns 100 years old!.
Westporters with long memories remember her as part of the family that owned the Connecticut Yankee — a clothing store where ASF Sports is now.
But there’s much more to her life to celebrate.
Betty Rosalind Strauss was born in Brooklyn on January 12, 1922. She and her brother Sheldon were raised by a father who was left an invalid after World War I, and a strong mother who ensured her children the finest educational opportunities.
Betty attended New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn and then City College of New York, from which she graduated with a BA in business administration in 1941. She added an MS in 1945.
Betty married college sweetheart Arnold Dorfman in 1942. While Arnold served in the US Army during World War II, Betty taught high school. After the war they moved around a bit for Arnold’s retail business, and began to raise daughters Merle and Wendy.
The family moved to Westport in 1955, where they opened their Connecticut Yankee store. Betty worked alongside Arnold there. So did her mother Estelle, who had then moved to Westport as well.
Betty also became active in the Temple Israel Sisterhood, and served as president of the Fairfield County chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.
After the Connecticut Yankee closed, Betty earning a 6th year professional diploma in education. She joined the University of Bridgeport as associate professor of secretarial studies in 1964.
Her career at UB was long and successful. Betty established and directed the nation’s first university-level word processing major. She shared her expertise with educators, publishers, and executives from around the country.
Betty was a stickler for the English language. She insisted that all secretarial students learned traditional English grammar and punctuation, and later taught journalistic style and usage to students in the Mass Communications Department.
Upon retirement in 1985, Betty was named associate professor emeritus by the UB Board of Trustees. Arnold suffered a serious stroke the following year, and she spent the next 6 years as caregiver. Arnold died in 1992.
During the next 2 decades Betty was an active member of Y’s Women, including co-chair of Trips and Travel for 10 years. She organized European excursions with co-chair Dorothy Coen.
She enjoyed playing bridge and taking classes at the Senior Center. Betty alao had a rewarding 10-year relationship with fellow Westporter Max Levinson. They had been couples friends for years. Max’s wife Eve had died a year after Arnold.
Betty moved to independent living at Meadow Ridge in 2012, where she remained active as chair of the Activities Committee. She moved into assisted living there in 2018, where she still resides.
Betty is delighted with the excellent care she receives and by her private part-time aide, Andrea Roudenis. She still gets her hair done every week, and appreciates comments about what an elegant woman she is even in her late 90s.
Although Covid has made it difficult for her family to visit recently, Betty is surrounded by a loving family. It includes daughter Merle Spiegel, who moved back to Westport in 1988; her daughter Kate Rosewood and husband Rich, and Betty’s great-granddaughters Vanessa and Fiona.
Betty’s other daughter, Wendy Roberts, has lived in Virginia most of her adult life but visits regularly, even during the pandemic. Wendy has 2 daughters: Jenn Roberts Ma, who lives in Virginia with husband Roger and Betty’s great-grandson Owen; and Amanda Pierson, who lives in Houston with husband Gene and Betty’s great-grandsons Robbie and Bennett. All keep in regular touch with Betty by phone and FaceTime, when not able to visit.
Betty’s family says she is “beloved for her sharp wit, deep intellectual curiosity, kindness, fierce loyalty to friends and family, and impeccable elegance. Hers is a life well lived – and an inspiration to those who know and love her.”
Happy 100th, Betty!