Obituary: Elizabeth Hinaman

Elizabeth Hinaman
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Elizabeth Hinaman
Elizabeth (Ferenczi) Hinaman, aka Betty, Mom, Grammy, Aunt Betty and Mrs. Hinaman, had many phases in her life. She entered her last phase on Nov. 26, 2012 when she went to heaven to meet her husband Chester and her daughter Emma, who had taken this trip earlier.
She began her first phase on June 16, 1917, when she was born in Binghamton, N.Y. She grew up in the First Ward with many siblings: Frank, Joseph, Cornelia, Louis, Daniel, Emma and Edward. As a teenager she dealt with the Great Depression.
In 1939 she married Chester Hinaman and spent the first years of her marriage living in her mother-in-law’s house. During World War II she worked at IBM while her husband joined the Navy. In early 1945, while her husband was on an aircraft carrier fighting the Japanese, she gave birth to their first son, Gary, a future United States Army Ranger 1st Lieutenant who would serve in the Vietnam War.
After World War II, she was reunited with her husband and they moved to Johnson City, N.Y., to raise their family. After taking care of her father as he died from cancer, she had a second child, Kurt.
During the 1950s, in addition to being a homemaker, she was also a den mother to Cub Scouts, worked on election boards and was active in the PTA, becoming president of her local, area and regional chapters. In 1959 she gave birth to a third child, Emma.
On March 12, 1966, she faced the greatest crisis of her life. On that night her son Gary found his father Chester as he had a cerebral hemorrhage and he held him as he died. Thus, at the age of 48, she was faced with raising a 12-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter while widowed and unemployed. She took a series of jobs, such as putting newspapers together in the freezing subzero cold of an unheated garage. Eventually she took a job as a school secretary; a position that gave her good benefits and also allowed her to have time off with her children when they were home from school. She worked her way up to the position of secretary for the superintendent of the Johnson City School District. In 1977, the most painful episode in her life occurred when she lost her daughter Emma.
The pain from these two life-changing events started to lift in 1979 when she entered another phase of her life with the birth of her first grandchild, Amanda. More grandchildren followed, with Gary and his wife Susan then having Larissa, Michael and Mark. With these grandchildren came long visits to Arvada, Colo., where she played the part of grandmother. At about the same time, her son Kurt had moved to Casper, Wyo., and started to take her on a series of trips to National Parks where she saw geysers, crawled through lava tubes and nurtured a healthy fear of bears. Eventually Kurt married and with his wife Judy they added two more grandchildren, Elizabeth and Peter. She also had her first great-grandchild CJ, Amanda’s son.
In 2002 she entered her Rangely, Colo., phase when she moved from her home of 53 years. She lived mainly with Gary and his family; although at times she had extended visits to Dover, Del., and then to Cheyenne, Wyo., where her son Kurt and his family lived. She moved into Rangely’s assisted living home in 2007, where she made a whole new round of friends. These friendships continued even after she was admitted into the extended-care facility of the hospital in 2011 due to severe osteoporosis and dementia. While many people become angry and bitter in this phase, Grammy — or Betty — was blessed with having an optimistic and usually happy disposition. Her favorite pastime was listening and singing to Frank Sinatra’s music and going to church.
During her final phase with us, the staff of Rangely District Hospital returned Betty’s kindness. During her last four days, while she was mostly unconscious, they would stroke her hair, hold her hand, gently kiss her on the forehead and tell her that they loved her before they left her room. The evening before she died Amanda and CJ visited and shared stories that only the oldest grandchild could share with her grandmother. The next afternoon she held on until Gary’s late afternoon phone call. Then, while Kurt held the phone to her ear and while Gary and Susan told her that they loved her, she passed away.
An informal memorial brunch to celebrate her life will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at the First Baptist Church in Rangely, Colo. Her remains will be buried alongside Chester and Emma at 2 p.m. Friday, March 15, 2013, in the Vestal Hills Memorial Cemetery, Vestal, N.Y. She is survived by her sons and their families, many nieces and nephews and their children, and three of her sisters-in-laws. She will be greatly missed.
Arrangements were entrusted to the care of the Blackburn Mortuaries.