Maude Wilson Betts, notable heart patient

November 30, 1992

Maude Wilson "Sis" Betts, one of the earliest survivors o open-heart surgery 40 years ago, died of a heart attack at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital on Thanksgiving Day. She was 78.

Services for Mrs. Betts, a lifelong resident of Rockville, will be held at 11 a.m. today at Christ Episcopal Church, 107 S. Washington St., Rockville.

Mrs. Betts, the wife of a Rockville attorney, had the first of her three open-heart operations in 1952 at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. The first procedure opened a closed valve, said Dr. Howard Bruenn, her cardiologist at the time.

Two other operations were needed to treat the problem, the next 1960.

"The last one was in '74, when they replaced the whole valve, but by that time that was common practice," said Mrs. Betts' daughter, Barbara Betts Cromwell of Rockville. "It worked real well. She was dancing and very independent; I couldn't keep up with her. She was a real whirlwind."

A fifth-generation Washingtonian, Mrs. Betts was active in the Colonial Dames, Lords of the Maryland Manor and the board of the Montgomery County Historical Society.

Mrs. Betts was also active in Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, where she oversaw the renovation and expansion of the church in 1965. She also worked with her husband, the late David E. Betts, on the design and construction of the Jefferson Building in Rockville. Mr. Betts was president of the Maryland Bar Association from 1972 to 1973.

Known to her friends as "Sis," she was a member of the Chevy Chase Club, Farmington Country Club, Ha'Penny Beach Club, the St. Croix Country Club and the Edgewater Beach Club in Naples, Fla. She had homes in Maryland, Naples and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Besides her daughter, she is survived by two brothers, Valentine C. Wilson and Franklin H. Wilson, both of Rockville; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggests contributions to the Endowment Fund of Christ Church, 107 S. Washington St., Rockville, Md. 20850.

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