Compiled by Robin Jovanovich 


OBITS-Elizabeth-CusterElizabeth Custer

Elizabeth (Betts) Hawkins Custer, a longtime advocate for mental health research and the treatment and care of patients with mental illness, both in New York State and at the national level, passed away peacefully at home March 1, 2015 at the age of 104. Mrs. Custer was the widow of Rear Admiral Ben Scott Custer, USN (Ret), whom she married in 1934, and who died in 2002 at the age of 97.  

Her work in mental health started in 1970, when she was instrumental in founding the Friends and Relatives of Psychiatric Institute (PI) at New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The initial purpose of this all-volunteer organization was to make life more comfortable for patients while they were in the Institute and to help them in their transition to independent living. The Friends provided the funding for five apartments and part of the support for a halfway house for patients. The organization also began to advocate for budgetary support for PI’s ongoing research work into mental illness, and Mrs. Custer became a frequent visitor to the New York State Legislature in Albany to advocate for more public spending on mental health.  

In 1979, Mrs. Custer, along with others around the country, helped to found the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. In 1982, recognizing the need for advocacy at the state level as well as the national level, she became a founding member of the New York State chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She served continuously as either a member of the Board of Directors or one of the Board committees, particularly the Research Committee, until she retired from the Board at the age of 100 in 2010. That same year she was honored at the annual dinner of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation with a Lifetime Dedication Award.

Dr. Herbert Pardes, MD, Executive Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, who worked with her over many decades, paid her the following tribute: “Betts Custer represents one of the finest citizen champions for the care of people with mental illness. She was talented in so many different areas and used her extraordinary brilliance, compassion and effective advocacy to encourage people to band together to work for better mental illness clinical programs, research programs, and everything else related thereto. In the history of mental illness, Betts Custer deserves singular recognition as one of its greatest heroes.”

Born Elizabeth Ziemer Hawkins in Boulder, Colorado, on October 1, 1910, she moved with her family the next year to Reno, Nevada, where her father had become a founding partner of one of the leading law firms in the city.

She attended local public schools in Reno, spent the last two years of high school at St. Helens Hall (now part of the Oregon Episcopal Schools) in Portland, and then entered Stanford University, from which she graduated magna cum laude, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Class of 1932. At Stanford she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi women’s sorority, Vice-President of her freshman class, on the staff of the Quad (the Stanford yearbook), and Women’s Editor of the Stanford Daily. In language from another era, which would no longer be imaginable for strong-minded, intelligent women undergraduates today, the Stanford Daily named her “the most beautiful and intelligent woman student for 1931-1932.” She also played on class teams for hockey, basketball, and tennis and won Stanford’s highest award for athletics, a Block “S” and a blanket.

At Stanford, there was at that time no women’s intercollegiate tennis, but Betts Hawkins, as she was then known, who was Nevada state women’s singles champion for six consecutive years in the late 1920s and early 1930s, was allowed to practice with the men’s team to get some competition. She regularly played mixed doubles in tournaments in California with one of the Stanford men who won the National Doubles at Forest Hills. After moving to Rye in the fall of 1959 she was either Rye City champion or a finalist in both women’s singles and women’s doubles for a number of years in the early 1960s, and continued playing on the Manursing Island Club women’s tennis teams into her eighties.

Mrs. Custer moved to Rye, with her family after her husband retired from the Navy and became an Assistant to the President of Columbia University. With three children growing up in Rye and at loose ends in the summer, Mrs. Custer persuaded Rye High School to let her organize and run classes in typing, driver education, cooking, sewing, and creative writing for a number of summers in the 1960s.

In Rye, Mrs. Custer was a member of Manursing Island Club, The Little Garden Club, and Rye Presbyterian Church. She was also a member of the Chevy Chase Club in Washington, D.C. and was a life member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  

She is survived by her four children, Benjamin Scott Custer Jr. of Mallorca, Spain, Barry Hawkins Custer of Washington, D.C., Carson Custer Taylor of Boulder, Colorado, and Penelope Field Custer of New York City; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

She will be buried next to her late husband in the cemetery for flag officers at the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. A memorial service will be held at Rye Presbyterian Church Saturday, March 14 at 2 p.m.   


O-OBIT-WYLIENorman Wylie

Norman Anderson Wylie, a respected international estates and trusts officer for four decades at The Bank of New York, died suddenly on January 5, 2015. He was 70.

Growing up in Rye, he was a graduate of Rye Country Day School, Hotchkiss School, and the University of North Carolina.  

His friends and family were his greatest joy; they maintained a strong attachment to him because of his loving concern for them — and his great sense of humor. Throughout his long career in New York, Mr. Wylie formed and maintained many valued friendships with people all over the world.

In addition to spending time with his family, he enjoyed fishing, boating, sailing, tennis, backgammon, and traveling to study American Civil War history. He also enjoyed his membership at Riverside Yacht Club, where he was named “Fisherman of the Year” in 2014.

Mr. Wylie is survived by his wife, Maesie Clarkson Wylie of Old Greenwich; his children, Sarah Wylie of Middlebury, Vt. and Peter Wylie (Laura Bickford) of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; his sisters, Joan Minich of Marilla, N.Y. and Winifred Wylie Walden of Kent, Conn; and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the First Congregational Church in Old Greenwich on May 9. Donations in his memory may be made to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation (, in Jacksonville Beach, Fla.


Aramita Licea

Aramita Licea, formerly of Rye, died on February 5, 2015, with her sister by her side.

She was born on June 18, 1947 to Nancy and Salvador Licea. Her father pre-deceased her in 2012. She leaves behind her mother Nancy, a longtime Rye resident; her sister Mary Ellen Horan; and her brother Mark Peter Licea. She is also survived by her nieces: Elizabeth Langdon, Holly Horan-Visser, and Nancy Horan; a nephew, Mark Licea; a great-niece, Ava Langdon; several aunts and cousins; and an uncle.

Ms. Licea also leaves behind her beloved Cerebral Palsy of Westchester roommates, staff members, and administrators.

A funeral mass was held February 11 at Holy Rosary Church in Port Chester.

Donations in Aramita Licea’s memory may be made to Cerebral Palsy of Westchester, 1186 King Street, Rye Brook, NY 10573.


NancyStandingUpsampledNancy Stampleman

Nancy Scott Stampleman, a longtime Rye resident, and a woman who was devoted to her community, died February 25, 2015. She was 76.

Born in Montreal on July 30, 1938, she was the daughter of George and Thelma Scott. She graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Political Science in 1959.

She met her future husband, Arthur Stampleman, who also hailed from Montreal, in their hometown. “After our first date, when I thought about her it was her smile I remembered,” he said. “The only reason our second date didn’t happen right away was because I wasn’t ready yet.” They were married on December 26, 1961.

In 1968 they moved to Rye. It was to Rye they returned in 1982, after living in London, where Mr. Stampleman’s job took them for nine years.

In addition to being very family-oriented, Mrs. Stampleman was a tireless volunteer, who helped organize every organization she was involved with and brought candor and good humor to every assignment.

Rye Historical Society Executive Director Sheri Jordan said, “Nancy will be sorely missed. She was not only a board member, but also our registrar for 25 years, and she was enormously helpful. She’s that kind of volunteer you rarely get any longer. She got things done.”

Not only was she a lover of history, but she was also committed to preserving Rye’s history-rich landscape and served on the Landmarks Advisory Committee from 1996 to 2009.

She served as a Rye Democratic District Leader from 1985 to 2010. Fellow leader and friend Maurio Sax praised her for being a hard worker. “Nancy didn’t miss a meeting, and was willing to do any task you threw at her. She was also very good at selecting candidates. In a positive, creative way she was committed to their success.”

At Rye Community Synagogue, Mrs. Stampleman served as archivist from 2007 to 2012. At her funeral service, Rabbi Daniel Gropper talked about the wonderful gift she had given their community by taking box after box of documents and organizing them into an archive that will long survive.

At her service, Rabbi Gropper also noted that Mrs. Stampleman was a forthright and intelligent woman who was not afraid to share her concerns, in a neighborly way, with neighbors whom she thought were not doing the right thing. His remark prompted a moment of levity and acknowledgement from friends and family who admired her truthfulness and community spirit.

Her sons, David and Joseph, described their mother as a “strong, amazing woman who prepared them for all the world has to offer, good or bad.”

On the day of her passing, her family said, “She was the strongest of all of us. We were the only ones with tears or concerns, while she made sure we selected a good photograph for her obituary, reminiscing over old photo albums and having one last toast of wine.”

In addition to her husband Arthur, a former Rye City Councilman, she is survived by her sons, David and Joseph and his wife Brett Gardner, and grandchildren Sarah and Samuel. Her children and grandchildren live in California.

A funeral service was held at Rye Community Synagogue on February 27.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Rye Historical Society or Rye Community Synagogue.


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