Rae ‘Betsie’ Zerlin, 85

Rae “Betsie” Zerlin  (Contributed photo)
Life-long traveler, educator and therapist in Hyde Park


A memorial service to celebrate the life of Rae “Betsie” Zerlin, 85, will be held Saturday 12 October at 11:00am at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. South Shore Drive in Hyde Park. All are invited.

Ms. Zerlin, who lived much of her adult life in Hyde Park, was described as a world traveler from an early age, an educator, continual learner, artist, chef, intellectual, social butterfly, lover of life, humanitarian, and a bright light in many people’s lives.

Born in Philadelphia, Betsie spent much of her childhood in Argentina because of her father’s work in the oil industry. So, she was raised speaking Spanish as well as English. After age 10, Betsie lived in the United States, but notable trips included a visit to Peru in the 1950s during which she and her parents were among the first foreign visitors to Machu Picchu.

Betsie and her husband Stanley, who died in 2013, raised their two children in Hyde Park. While bringing up her children, Betsie became an assistant teacher at the Lab School, which lead to a long career working with children. Attaining degrees from Roosevelt and Loyola Universities, Betsie was a teacher at Ancona Montessori school in Hyde Park, then a child therapist and social worker for Catholic Charities and the Chicago Public Schools, where her Spanish was put back to use. She also maintained a private clinical practice.

Always creative in large and small ways, Betsie was accomplished at, and took pleasure in, gardening, cooking for her family and others, painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, and digital image-making.

She delighted in entertaining, for years hosting annual solstice parties which were notable for their mix of generations, cheerfully clothed guests, and warm atmosphere. Connecting with her community, Betsie was involved in groups such as the Older Women’s League and the Association for Retired Social Workers.

After her husband’s death in 2013, Betsie moved into Montgomery place where she enjoyed the Friday night speakers, the short story club, movie night, art classes, and dinner time conversations.

Ms. Zerlin died in mid-August surrounded by her family. She will be greatly missed by her children, Sharon Panzica and David Zerlin, their spouses Frank and Laura, and her grandchild Adam Panzica.