Elizabeth Ann (Manion) Friedenauer died Sept. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee, Wis. She was 73. Betsy was angry to be taken by cancer, but she shared laughs and happy hour each day with her sister and daughters through the end.
Betsy was born on Oct. 10, 1946 in South Dakota, the eldest child of Robert and Margaret (Wilka) Manion. She survived the first three months of her life in a St. Louis hospital to overcome health complications. The experience gave her a stubbornness and perseverance that served her well throughout her life.
Betsy grew up in Richfield, Minn., with her parents, sister Helen, and brother Jim. The three siblings remained close confidants throughout their lives and always made each other laugh. After graduating from Academy of Holy Angels, Betsy attended University of Wisconsin-River Falls and graduated with a teaching degree. At River Falls she also met and fell in love with Craig Friedenauer. They wed on June 29, 1968 in Minneapolis.
Betsy and Craig began their life together in Illinois, where their first daughter, Andrea, was born. They moved to Maple, Wis. a few years later where their second daughter, Meg, was born. Betsy continued teaching while also working as an elected town clerk, a self-employed caterer, picking pine boughs and carousing with her best friend, Phyllis, and (grudgingly) raising cattle. She made life-long friends in Maple who shared her sense of humor and fun. A few years later the family moved to Idaho, where Betsy worked as a children’s librarian before finally settling in Missoula, Mont., where Betsy worked for several organizations including the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department.
Wherever the family lived, Betsy created adventures for her daughters including picnics on the beaches of Lake Superior, cross-country skiing, sledding, hiking, swimming, ice skating, and taking them to the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Even though she occasionally grumbled about the expectation of cooking and baking for her family, her efforts were delicious. She made holidays memorable for her daughters, taught them to cook with real butter and vanilla (more for their personal enjoyment than anyone else’s), and drink good wine. She taught her grandsons, Isaac and Max, to play cards with a sharp eye and unforgiving drive to win. She inherited her mother’s Irish eyes and sass and her father’s academic prowess and appreciation for dry martinis.
When Craig unexpectedly died in 1990, Betsy was determined to re-create her career. She moved near her siblings in Minnesota and attended College of Saint Benedict for a second degree in dietetics, an area she had always been interested in. She worked two and sometimes three jobs while going to school including at the St. Cloud Times and Stearns County Sheriff’s Department. She graduated in 1995, the same year she would proudly note that her eldest daughter graduated law school and her youngest graduated high school. Shortly after, she moved to work as a registered dietician in Dillon, Mont. There, she met Bob Dansie who would be her partner for more than 20 years.
Betsy and Bob took their adventures to Arizona where she continued working as a clinical dietician at Yavapai Regional Medical Center while exploring the Arizona wilderness with Bob, prospecting for gold, hiking, fishing, and camping.
Betsy and Bob eventually moved to Pioneer, Calif. Betsy retired, but volunteered at Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park and the Hospice of Amador Hospice Thrift Store. She traveled more, especially with her sister Helen, including to Germany, Belize, New Orleans, Scotland, Canada, Alaska, and the West Coast. She enjoyed the outdoors, good friends, and good food.
Betsy was a proud, lifelong union supporter and committed Democrat. She was an unabashed card-carrying member of the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center. As a dietician, she was especially vocal about supporting policy and programs focused on child and senior nutrition and food security for the most vulnerable. She taught her daughters to never miss voting in an election. She was in the hospital on the day of the 1976 presidential election giving birth to her youngest daughter; she asked the nurses for an absentee ballot before even giving her new daughter a name. She was a staunch supporter of local newspapers, subscribing and writing eloquent, well-reasoned letters to the editor in support of causes and candidates. In recent years she was involved with the California Democratic Central Committee and attended Women’s Marches and protests around the area. Betsy was an example of how you are never too old to fight the establishment and campaign, protest, speak out, write letters, and do anything you can to create opportunities for the next generation. Betsy was especially interested in a better world for her two grandsons whom she was immensely proud of.
She adored her close group of friends in Pioneer and would gather with them often to hike, snowshoe, play cards, meditate, discuss politics, and create obnoxious crafts.
Betsy died of complications from lung cancer. She tried several times and finally quit smoking nearly a decade ago. It was one of her hardest and proudest achievements.
Betsy was hilarious, progressive, independent, practical, sassy, stubborn, loving, and an advocate for those less fortunate. She bestowed these attributes upon her daughters and this is her greatest legacy.
Betsy is survived by her partner of 25 years, Bob Dansie; daughters Andrea (Brad) Hoeschen of Milwaukee, Wis., and Meg Friedenauer (John Hagen) of Bayfield, Wis.; her sister Helen Manion (Andreas Kiryakakis) of Avon, Minn., and Brother Jim Manion of St. Paul, Minn.; grandsons Isaac Hoeschen of New Orleans, La., and Max Hoeschen of Milwaukee, Wis.; several nephews and nieces and dear friends in Pioneer, Missoula, and Maple.
Per her request and because of the pandemic, there will be no service. Her ashes will be buried near Craig in Missoula and scattered in some of her favorite places she spent with Bob and family across the country. To honor Betsy, her family encourages you to take a hike, have a martini or glass of good wine, vote (and encourage others to do the same), volunteer or donate to the campaign of any local democratic candidate, the American Civil Liberties Union, Aurora Health Care Foundation in Milwaukee in honor of its amazing team of hospice caregivers, or any cause you think Betsy would find fitting and practical.
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