Elizabeth Hoyt | Passages


Elizabeth Hoyt (nee McKeen) was born in Republic, Washington to Elizabeth and Abner McKeen on February 2nd, 1929. Her father died in a logging accident when she was four and she and her brother (David McKeen, deceased) were raised by their mother and maternal grandparents Olaf and Amalia Sandstrom—both immigrants from Sweden. Betty was brought up to be independent and self-reliant from an early age with an emphasis on education. She attended schools in Tonasket and Cashmere, WA before graduating from North Central High School in Spokane as class valedictorian in 1947. After attending one year at Whitman College on a scholarship, she transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, earning a BA in 1951 in Spanish with honors. A careful review of her transcripts, however, showed an early propensity for “work/life balance”.

At Berkeley, she met and in 1952 married James Hoyt, her life partner. In need of a job while Jim finished his PhD in Korean literature, Betty earned an MA and a teaching credential from California State University at San Francisco in 1952 and taught Spanish in the California public school system.

In 1954, Jim and Betty embarked on a 30-year adventure in the Foreign Service with postings to Taipei, Niigata, Hiroshima, La Paz, Mexico City, Tokyo, Manila, and Seoul. While Jim’s career drove the selection of postings, Betty was not idle! Always the consummate entertainer (think 48 place settings as normal), she managed to earn credentials in Japanese and Korean language and took graduate courses in business and social science while also leading numerous volunteer organizations including the American Women’s Club (1963-4, La Paz), the College Women’s Association of Japan (1969-71; Tokyo), the Association of American College Women (1973-4; Manila), and the Korean Association of University Women (1982-85; Seoul). Despite this hectic schedule, she managed to raise two boys—one smart and good-looking, the other, not so much.

Jim and Betty purchased their retirement home in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in 1984 and built it into their personal oasis with an Asian flair. They became part of the local fabric with many great friends. Friday Harbor became a base while they continued to travel and work in Korea, Hawaii, and Bellingham—always coming back and always thinking of Friday Harbor as home. When in residence, Friday Harbor was a fabulous magnet that made it easy to invite old friends from afar with whom to share the magic of these islands and this community.

Betty leaves behind two sons Jeremy (Karen) and Joshua (Diane), one grandson and two great-granddaughters (Grace and Alonnah) — all of the Portland, Oregon area — and a diaspora of nephews and nieces.