Bettye Bongie

ELIZABETH AGNES EMILY (“BETTYE”) BONGIE became the department’s first woman tenure-track appointee when she became a Lecturer in 1956, after taking a doctorate at the University of Illinois under the great Polish emigré  scholar Alexander Turyn (1900-81).  Her dissertation was one of enduring value on the Byzantine recension of the manuscripts of Aeschylus.  She later assisted Turyn in his codicological publications.

Her undergraduate career was divided between Victoria College and UBC, and she graduated in Honors Classics in 1951, winning the Governor General’s gold medal, as had her teacher Geoffrey Riddehough twenty-four years earlier.  An active member of the Classics Club, she starred in what appears to have been its first full-length dramatic production, that of Euripides’Alcestis in translation staged at Brock Hall on 8th February1951.  She took the part of Alcestis’ servant, while Heracles was played by another future classical scholar, the Latinist Edwin Ramage (later of the University of Indiana).

Bettye actively represented the department’s interests in the Medieval Studies programs (and became close friends with Jean Elder, Marguerite Chiarenza, and Richard Unger).  During late 2011 and early 2012, Bettye painstakingly proofread all the Greek and Latin texts together with the English translations for Paul Burn’s recent book—A Model of the Christian Life. Hilary of Poitier’s Commentary on the Psalms (2012).

Bettye retired in 1992 after a long and distinguished teaching career at UBC, which included a Master Teaching Award.  In 1995 she published an annotated translation of Ps.-Athanasius’ Life and Regimen of Syncleitica.  We are saddened to announce that Bettye passed away on May 18, 2013.  Her obituary can be read here.

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