Betty Lou Burnett Gaines, age 100, passed away peacefully on April 26, 2019, at Canterbury Court in Atlanta, Georgia.
She was born in Zanesville, Ohio on December 22, 1918, the daughter of Nelle Bowen Burnett and Jacob Cornelius Burnett. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended North High School where she graduated in 1935. As a student at The Ohio State University, she joined Alpha Xi Delta sorority and served as its president, remaining a loyal sorority alumna for over 80 years. An accounting major with a superb head for business, she graduated from Ohio State’s Business College in 1939. In Washington D.C., she met the love of her life, Frank Wharton Gaines, Jr. who she married on April 5, 1941.
She and Frank lost their first child, Robert Wharton Gaines, shortly after birth, but raised three surviving children, two sons and a daughter. Frank and Betty enjoyed a long and happy marriage which lasted 63 years until his death on April 18, 2004. Frank was an antitrust lawyer who served first with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and later spent twenty-five years as Associate General Counsel of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Upon his retirement from Westinghouse in 1977, he and Betty moved back to Washington where Frank opened an office for the New York law firm Olwine, Connelly, Chase, O’Donnell and Wyre. In 1990, they moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida where they enjoyed their final retirement years together. In 1966 at the age of 48, Betty opened her own business, Betty Gaines Antiques, which kept her busy well into her 90s.
She became an appraiser and expert on antique porcelain, developing a loyal following of customers first at her shop on Fort Couch Road in Pittsburgh, and later in two locations in Old Town Alexandria. She was a founder of the Ponte Vedra Chapter of Questers, an international non-profit fostering the study and preservation of antiques. In her 80s, she continued to sell antiques at occasional shows, and in her 90s had her own website. Following Frank’s death in 2004, Betty moved to the retirement community Canterbury Court in Atlanta, Georgia where she continued to volunteer and share with her fellow residents her love for the decorative arts at her monthly Antiques Roundtable. Betty had a passion and talent for art, which she nurtured over her life. Her apartment, filled with antiques, was also decorated with her enthusiastic artistic output, and her final days were devoted to producing skilled pencil drawings. She loved nothing more than to dance, and made a point of dancing at her 100th birthday.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband Frank and her beloved sister Marian Burnett Maddux.
She is survived by her three children, Edward Burnett Gaines of Jacksonville, Florida, Frank Ward Gaines of Washington, D.C. (wife Alicia Grimes), and Elizabeth Gaines Crosby of Atlanta (husband Robert); her five grandchildren Jennifer Gaines Strasser (husband Taylor), Katherine Crosby Blum (husband Steven), Samuel Gaines Crosby, Julia Osborn Gaines and Margaret Nelle Gaines; and by two great-grandchildren Annabelle Jayne Strasser and William Taylor Strasser.
The family is especially appreciative of the loving care and friendship of her loyal caretaker Bobbet Polk, and of the many members of the dedicated staff at Canterbury Court.
A memorial service will be held at Canterbury Court, 3750 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30319 on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made either to Canterbury Court, The Mayo Foundation, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, the Faunsdale Foundation, P.O. Box 222, Faunsdale, AL 36738, or a charity of your choice.