Betsy G. Bang, 91, illustrator, translator

November 07, 2003

Betsy G. Bang, a renowned medical illustrator and translator of several books of Indian folk tales, died Oct. 31 at her home in Woods Hole, Mass., of complications from a fall. The former Guilford resident was 91.

Betsy Garrett was born in Lancaster, N.C., and raised in Washington and attended public schools. She earned her bachelor's degree in 1933 from George Washington University.

She moved to Baltimore and studied medical illustration at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with Max Broedel, the world-renowned medical illustrator who was credited with bringing "art to medicine."

Mrs. Bang illustrated the definitive anatomy of the gorilla for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The illustrations included intricate life-size renderings of the leg muscles and blood vessels, which Mrs. Bang produced between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. - when the subways that shook the museum building ran less frequently, family members said.

In 1940, she married Dr. Frederick Barry Bang, chairman of the parasitology department at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. He died in 1981.

Interested in the culture of India, she learned to read Bengali and used her knowledge to translate tales, which were published in English. She also researched and wrote widely about Sitala, the goddess of pox.

For many years, until moving to Woods Hole after her husband's death, Mrs. Bang lived on Cloverhill Road in Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood. She was a member of the Prisoners Aid Association and the League of Women Voters in Baltimore, and she worked to convince the city Police Department that women should be hired as school crossing guards.

In Woods Hole, she volunteered and conducted tours at the Marine Biological Laboratory and helped computerize its vast catalog of books. She also created a database of former students and investigators who had worked at the lab. She volunteered at the Woods Hole public library until she was 90.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Woods Hole.

She is survived by a son, Axel F. Bang of Bedford Hills, N.Y.; a daughter, Molly Garrett Bang of Woods Hole; and two granddaughters. Another daughter, Caroline Bang, died a decade ago.

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