Bettye Durrence Whiteman of Rye, New York passed away peacefully in her home, with her family by her side, on February 8, 2019 at the age of 93. She lived a long and extraordinary life dancing on Broadway, representing major fashion designers and most of all, being devoted to Bob, her husband of nearly 70 years. Family was her highest priority and she reveled in the lives of her three children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Born in Savannah, Georgia to Audrey and Nita Durrence, Bettye excelled in music and dance as an elementary student. By the time she was in high school, she was considered to be one of Georgia’s leading dancers and actresses. At 16, she was selected as the only female and only civilian in the cast of “The General’s Daughter,” a musical comedy presented by the soldiers at Camp Stewart. At 17, she went to New York to study at the School of American Ballet and at Columbia University. She landed roles dancing on Broadway in “Call Me Mister,”“Polanaise,” and “Seven Lively Arts” before getting married and starting her family. As a young mother of three, Bettye studied fashion at Traphagen and the Parsons School of Design and joined Mam’selle to start a 30-year career in the fashion industry. She traveled throughout the United States to represent leading fashion designers. Bettye was engaged in the arts throughout her life as a performer, creator, and most of all as a patron of both visual and performing arts.
Bettye was predeceased by her husband Robert Whiteman in 2017 and is survived by her daughters, Dale Pinto and her husband James, and Caren Kline and her husband Peter. Her son Robert G. Whiteman and his wife Cindy predeceased Bettye in 2014. She is also survived by grandchildren: Alexander Whiteman and his wife Katie, Elizabeth and Caroline Whiteman, Caren, Nick and Brooke Pinto, Catherine and Christina Kline; and by great-grandchildren: Caroline, Jack, Charlotte and Ella Grace.
Everyone in the family is truly grateful for the wonderful team of staff and caregivers whose loyalty and support have been truly extraordinary over the years. The kindness and compassion shown by Paulo, Simone, Soraia andCarolina is appreciated beyond words.
The family will receive visitors at Graham Funeral Home, 1036 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY between 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 11th and a Celebration of Life service will be held at the Rye Presbyterian Church, 882 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY on Tuesday, February 12th at 11:00 a.m.