It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our mother, Elizabeth “Betty” Dutko, on June 1, 2022 after being stricken ill.
Daughter of the late John and Mary Slevich Dutko, who immigrated from the Ukraine, she was born and raised in “The Patch” section of Dunmore. She spent summers during her childhood working on a bean farm in New York with her mother and sisters, earning five cents perbushel to support the family and buy school clothes. As a teenager, her platinum blond hair, blue eyes and an infectious smile caught the eye of a young Tony Bennett at a concert at the Masonic Temple. He wanted her to accompany him on the road until her older sister told him she was only 16! A 1956 graduate of Dunmore High School, she immediately began working for her brother-in-law, William Foley, for the United Mine Workers of America, AFL-CIO, in Providence, Rhode Island.
After marrying Angelo Naro in 1960, they bought their home on “The Hill” in Dunmore, where they raised their family in a wonderful neighborhoodand hadlife-long friends. Tragedy soon followed the young couple, when their first son, Michael John, died at birth, a painful loss lasting her entire life. A year later she welcomed her first daughter, Evamari, followed by a son, Angelo, and daughters, Melanie and Liz. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years, raising her four young children. A wonderful seamstress, Betty’s family room was turned into a quilt making room where she and her sisters, Julie and Helene, stitched beautiful homemade blankets for their children, as well as their nieces and nephews for baptism or wedding gifts.
She was involved in the YMCA Gymnastic Team Parents Association, where she helped coordinate various fundraisers for the team. She also coordinated a gymnastics demonstration in her front yard for her neighbors and friends.
As her children got older, Betty returned to the workforce in 1979 when she was hired as an executive secretary at the Scranton YMCA in Dunmore. She also organized the Industrial Softball League for many years and assisted with the State Champion Lift Contest and the Mr. Anthracite Body Building Champion competition with Bob O’Leary and Joe Luciano. She was instrumental with the recruitment and development of YPals with her dear friend, Louise Powell McClafferty. In 2002 she retired at age 62, but continued assisting Louise whenever asked.
She was very proud of her Ukrainian heritage and traveled to the Ukraine in 1997 to visit the birthplace of her parents and meet family members. She was a lifelong member of St. Nicholas Orthodox Greek Catholic Church where she was an active member, helping with any fundraising, especially pierogi, bake sales and picnics.
Surviving are her “Modern Family”: Evamari Hennigan, Angelo Jr., Melanie and companion Ibrahim Sanverer, and Lizabeth Naro and their Father, Angelo Naro, Sr. She was the best Baba to granddaughter Mandy Henderson and husband John, and grandsons Michael Gardier, Tommy and Shane Hennigan, Colin Holmes and Angelo M. Naro. Several generations of nieces and nephews also survive.
Her greatest joys were her grandchildren. She didn’t hesitate to play kickball or wiffle ball with her grandsons. She taught them how to play fish, rummy, and black jack. She made Mickey Mouse pancakes for the grandkids for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A great baker and cook, she was known for her homemade bread and nut roll. Her family looked forward to her lasagna she made at the holidays, and they will miss her halupki, pierogi, halushki and meatloaf.
She was predeceased by sisters, Mary Swetz, Julia Worobey, Katherine Foley, Anne Hazelwood, Helene Flaherty, brothers, John and Joseph, infant siblings Ana, Eva, Charles and Michael, her son-in-law, Thomas “Tucker” Hennigan, several nephews and nieces, including her goddaughter, Desiree Flaherty.
Four years ago, after several falls and an infection that almost killed her, she begrudgingly became a resident at Green Ridge Care Center. She complained that she wanted to go home, but conceded that she was well cared for by the nurses, aides, and therapists. She began crocheting and enjoyed making blankets, scarves and hats for everyone and made booties for the residents’ wheelchairs. She enjoyed her weekend Scrabble matches with her daughters and grandsons.
The family is incredibly thankful to the staff at Green Ridge Care Center. The love and care you gave her will never be forgotten. A special thank you to her first nurse, John Duffy, who would bring her something special his wife, Veronica, made, and aide Tattianna Plunkett, who we thought our mother adopted because she talked so much about Tattianna and her daughter, Sweet Pea.
A few of the things we will remember about our Mother are her selflessness, stubbornness, and love for her friends and family. She slept on the couch so her teenage children could enjoy their own individual bedrooms. She was never afraid to give you her opinion if you were doing something she didn’t like. She kept every card and photo sent to her by family and friends. She never smoked and didn’t like to drink, but insisted on having a sip of cold beer from her son’s keg when he threw a party. She genuinely cared about and took a sincere interest in everyone she met.
Per Betty’s wishes, private services were held by Father Alexei Kalyuzhny, Pastor of St. Mary Protection of the Mother of God Orthodox Church at Vanston & James Funeral Home, Scranton. Internment at Abington Hills Cemetery, Clarks Summit. Memorial donations can be made in Betty’s memory to her favorite nonprofits: The Mosaic Project, 1429 Electric Street, Dunmore, PA 18509 or Tommy’s Voice, 801 Cooney Street, Dunmore, PA 18512.