Betty Jean Willis died peacefully at her home in the Seabury Retirement Community in Bloomfield, Conn. on Thursday, Dec. 23. She was 96.

She was born in Bellingham, Wash., in February of 1925 and graduated from Bellingham High School in 1943. She attended the University of Washington and was active in the Phi Beta Phi sorority.

While at university, she met her beloved husband of 51 years Robert H. Willis, a naval officer from Fall River stationed at Whidbey Island. They lived in Mineola, N.Y., and Ashtabula, Ohio, before settling in Westport, Conn., in 1959. When Bob became president of the Hartford Gas Company, they moved to Bloomfield, where they lived for many years.

As Bob built the gas company into Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation, Betty completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Hartford. She was an active volunteer for numerous civic organizations including the Hartford Symphony Auxiliary, the Annie Fisher School in North Hartford and Literacy Volunteers.

She was an accomplished artist whose favorite medium was watercolor. She enjoyed sports such as tennis and golf; she knocked in two holes in one during her golf career. One of her greatest pleasures was spending many beautiful summers on Martha’s Vineyard with her children and grandchildren. While wintering in Stuart, Fla., she also became a golf croquet instructor and founded the Mariner Sands Croquet Club, which now boasts more than 250 members. Upon moving to the Seabury Retirement Community in 2009 she started an active croquet program and donated all the equipment.

She is survived by her son Mark Willis and his wife Patricia of Simsbury, Conn.; grandson Scott Willis, his wife Erin and great-grandchildren Luke and Sloane of Berwyn, Pa.; and grandson Brett Willis, his wife Haley and great-grandchildren Poppy and June of Portland, Me.

A memorial service will be held on the Vineyard during the summer of 2022.

Donations can be sent to the East Chop Tennis Club, 59 Brewster Ave., Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.