Betty Jane Immelt died of natural causes on March 26 at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Oak Bluffs. She was 93.

Born Sept. 19, 1924 in Hilliard, Ohio, she was the youngest of three daughters. Their father was the Marble Cliff Quarry superintendent and an inventor whose sense of adventure led him to join Ringling Brothers Circus at 16 as an acrobatic aerialist.

Betty graduated from West High School in Columbus, Ohio in 1943, and attended Ohio State University.

She led an exuberant and spirited life, punctuated by her ability to make others feel welcome and included. Anchored by the same sense of adventure her father possessed and a promise of better things to come, she began her adventures early, meeting her future husband Rev. Robert Immelt at Methodist youth group. When Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where duty would eventually bring him into conflict, they did the unheard-of thing: they eloped to Washington, D.C. in 1943 (a subject she kept from her children until college).

She happily made a home in Washington, and along with her sister in law Ruth Immelt Anderson, a fellow adventurer who was stationed there as a WAVE, they adeptly navigated life during the war. Betty would eventually work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, handling thousands of fingerprints daily. She was proud to have seen the fingerprints of the celebrities of that day, including Al Capone.

After the war she and Bob began their next adventure: a calling to the ministry. As most seminary students at the time could attest, they were given the early task of navigating a circuit of churches to serve during that time. Betty easily took on the task, embracing her minister’s wife duties, including riding in the back seat of their aging Ford typing away at Bob’s old Royal typewriter to finish his seminary papers on time as he traveled between church meetings and services. She was also an accomplished pianist and organist, stepping in as church organist where needed.

For over 40 years she embraced the adventure of minister’s wife, establishing much needed order and innovation to the United Methodist churches they served. Establishing the first form of prayerful dance in the worship service in one, founding an annual Christmas Madrigal dinner in another, countless Christmas teas and mother and daughter dinners in all, and working hard in the background to help the local Boy Scout organizations effectively reach adventurous young men during the tumultuous ‘60s and ‘70s: her welcoming and generous “come sit next to me” nature pervaded everything she accomplished. Even into their retirement years, she and Bob opened their home each Sunday evening to conduct a Salon Evening where friends and neighbors gathered to discuss cultural events of the day linked to art, nature, science, literature, technology, philosophy, travel and religion.

Betty and Bob navigated one last adventure upon retirement from the United Methodist Church Conference when they embarked on a career as regional directors for Educational Opportunities, a religious-based travel company. Serving over 10 years, Betty easily supervised travel bases in Jerusalem, Cairo, and United Kingdom among other assignments. She broke through many cultural barriers in a supervisory role.

She was happiest during her times on the Vineyard. Having purchased a small gingerbread cottage in the Camp Ground from close family friends in 1955, she and Bob set about making it a place for everyone to call home, a place where anyone could hang a hat. They and a small group of young ministers’ families spent many wonderful summers together at the “12th Light Pole After the Bridge” on State Beach. She expertly planned clambakes and cookouts, hosted ice cream sundae socials with their group of friends, and became an integral part of the summer Camp Meeting community over the years.

When her health prompted a move to Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Betty continued her congenial nature, whether by sparking lively discussion during Wednesday Talks with Vicky, making new residents feel at home in the dining room or by letting her special care workers, nurses and doctors know how much they were needed and appreciated.

Her proudest accomplishment remained her family, personal and extended. She never let a conversation pass without telling of their latest accomplishments and acquisitions. Her room in Windemere told a lovely and joyful story with pictures spilling over the confines of her “family” bulletin board featuring the latest on children, grand and great-grands, family, friends, places, dinners and all things near and dear to her heart.

Betty knew that over everything else, making a difference for others and offering an open and easy welcome to all was what life was all about:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched in some way so your soul has someplace to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” - Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451

Her son Mark Immelt predeceased her in 2007, and her husband Rev. Robert Immelt predeceased her in 2009.

She leaves behind a son, Jay Immelt and his partner Helen of Aberdeen, Wash., their son Justin and their daughter Johanna, her partner Jody and children Craig, Berlin, and Peyton, all of Washington; daughter Julie Immelt Wheeler and her partner Geoff of Vineyard Haven, their son Andrew, his partner Jenna and their son Jackson, of Oak Bluffs; daughter in law Carol Immelt of Vineyard Haven, her daughter Alyssa Sliger and her partner Michael and children Abigail, Emily and Hannah of Centerville, Ohio; her daughter Stephanie Immelt, her partner Dan Gilkes and children Hunter and Harper of Edgartown; her daughter Julie Immelt Whelden and her son Wesley of Falmouth; her sister in law Ruth Immelt Anderson of Oak Bluffs; her brother in law Joseph Immelt and his partner Donna of Cincinnati, Ohio; and many nieces, nephews and friends.

Her memorial service was celebrated March 28 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Oak Bluffs. Interment followed at Oak Grove Cemetery in Oak Bluffs.

Memorial Gifts in Betty’s name may be made to the MV Camp Meeting Association, P.O. Box 1685, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, with Tabernacle Restoration Fund in the memo line, and Hospice of MV, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.