Bettye Joanne Wray Fears
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Bettye Jo was born on a chilly, early morning at 2am on December 10th, 1959 at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. The hospital is near where her Mother, Joanne Lacourciere Wray, Father, Clarence Earl Wray, and big brother Clarence Earl Wray (Chuck) resided in Pompano Beach Florida.
“She could swim before she could walk”, her Mom Joanne always says, “because that’s what we did with all our kids”. She did just that with her brother daily, along with her younger sister, Kimberly Anne Wray Perdue (Kim) when she came along in 1962. The family moved to Maximo Moorings in St. Petersburg in 1964, where the three of them started swimming competitively at the neighborhood community club pool on their swim team. She was swimming at a swim meet when her younger brother James Daniel Wray (Jim) was born in 1965. She played her part in naming him too, Daniel after Daniel Boone.
Bettye Jo’s best stroke was breast stroke and her steady, strong consistent freestyle also had her competing in the 1650-yard freestyle event at each meet when she finished competitive swimming in high school.
She attended Bay Pointe Elementary where she was a Brownie and stayed until 5th grade, when the family switched schools and started the long bus ride to St. Paul’s Elementary. Living on the “Southside" made them some of the first kids on the bus each morning. At St. Paul’s she was a member of the Girl Scouts of America and her hard work, interest, and diligence earned her a scholarship to GSOA Marine Biology Summer Camp on Sanibel Island, where she developed her passion for preserving the environment in the world, we live in.
Bettye Jo graduated from St. Paul’s in 8th Grade and went on to St. Petersburg Catholic High School, where Chuck had started the year before. She graduated in 1977, in the top 10 of her class, “started” and “lettered" in Swimming all 4 years and was elected and served as a loyal Student Council member all 4 years as well.
Her dedication to her courses, involvement in school and top grades earned her a Presidential Scholarship to the University of Tampa, or a “full ride” as it was called back then. She majored in Marine Biology and fully intended to become a Marine Biologist when she graduated. But as love and luck would have it, she met and fell in love with her first husband, John Chapelle in her junior year, and when he graduated, he whisked her off to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he was assigned after graduating the ROTC program at University of Tampa.
In Germany she worked for the University of Maryland in the Registrar’s office. UM taught the enlisted and their families on the base, so while she worked, she also attended and switched her major to Psychology, eventually graduating in 1986. Bettye Jo loved Europe, became completely fluent in German and traveled often,
backpacking with friends during and after her marriage ended. She developed lifelong connections during this time of her life, including her friendship with her soul sister, Rhea Powers. She took a Euro tour with her Mom in 85, just in time for the American Airlines hijacking, which sent them scurrying to Crete for the duration of the trip! It took senators and her dad’s phone calls and foot stamping to get them off the Island and back to safety in Germany.
After graduation she became interested in Shiatsu Massage and Child Psychology. While in Germany she studied and became a licensed Shiatsu Massage Therapist, and then a teacher. She studied under and then became close friends and colleague with Physical Therapist and Shiatsu Therapist, Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke. They researched, wrote, and published a book in German, Spiel-Raume, about supporting child development through the lens of the 5 Elements. Years later in 2014 she revised and translated the book to English with Karin and published it in the United States under the name, Children At Their Best. This work became the foundation of her business, Shiatsu Mas-sage Institute, later renamed Energetic Development Institute, which she started in the early 1990s.
Bettye Jo headed home for one of her annual US visits in 1987 and decided to stay, get her American Massage therapy license, and support and attend the birth of her Godson and nephew, Joshua Michael Wray, son to sister Kimberly. While attending class for her American Certification at the Humanities Center in Clearwater, she met Greg Fears. They married in 1988 in Germany, where they had traveled to finish off the 1st book with Karin. They came back to the states and repeated the ceremony with the family.
After the wedding they took off for Puerto Rico for their honeymoon and decided to stay for a little under a year, working as massage therapists there. They moved home in 1989, the year Bettye Jo started studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. Arielle was born in 1990 and came home to their first home in the Shore Acres neighborhood in St. Petersburg. Bettye Jo began working and teaching at the Humanities Center and treating massage therapy clients while being a Mom.
She continued to teach at the Humanities Center, treat clients with Shiatsu Massage, and gave birth to her second child, Gregory Michael Fears ("Michael") in 1993. She was a spectacular Mother raising her two kids, while translating her book to English with Karin.
Bettye Jo began studying and practicing the Diamond Approach, a spiritual practice for self-discovery and realization, in 1995, later going on to become a teacher.
In 1994 she started a business with her long-time friend, Julie Kaplan called the Shiatsu Massage Institute, where they treated patients with Shiatsu Therapy and trained students in Shiatsu Massage with 105-hour trainings. In 2005 she went back to school again and graduated with a Masters Degree in Psychology in 2007 from Argosy University.
In 2007, she began Diamond Approach teacher training and was later ordained as a Minister / teacher for the Diamond Approach to Self-Realization in 2018. She considered Diamond Approach teaching to be her calling, and was devoted to her students and the teachings. She rarely stood still in life.
After divorce, Bettye Jo moved to Boston in 2013 where her daughter Arielle attended college and was raising her first grandchild, Eli with partner Walsh Moore. Later that year she went to Amsterdam for a Diamond Approach retreat. While there, she reconnected and fell in love with Grant Trewenack, who she had known for years through teacher training. In 2015, Grant moved from his home of Australia to Boston to be with Bettye Jo and work as a Diamond Approach teacher. They lived a rich, full and adventurous eight loving years together, traveling across the states and to Germany and Australia.
In 2017 she interviewed and was offered an amazing job at Community Health Link by Carolyn Drosser, where she continued to work right up to her passing as a Director overseeing 3 Health Programs, one of which she designed and developed, providing intensive case management to high needs individuals. Bettye Jo's vast knowledge and passion for wellness, health, and support for families and individuals made her uniquely equipped to be of service to her community in this capacity.
Bettye Jo was a seriously devoted mother and grandmother. She often traveled to Florida and Nashville to be with her son Michael and her daughter Arielle and partner Walsh and grandchildren. She delighted in her children, was dedicated to their fulfillment, and immensely proud of them. She truly lived a full life in service of others, but her children were what gave her profound joy in her life and were her first priority.
In 2019 Bettye Jo was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She fought the disease at Dana Farber in Boston, rated one of the top treatment centers for female cancers in the US. She traveled to Australia for alternative treatments and to Mexico as well. After much intentional preparation on her part, on Sunday, May 16th at 10:10 am, our beautiful Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Friend, Teacher and Healer left this world in peace in her own bedroom, surrounded by family and loved ones and supported by her Tibetan Buddhist teachers and sangha members all over the country.
Bettye Jo is survived by her partner, Grant Trewenack, her mother, Joanne Elizabeth Lacourciere Wray, her siblings, Clarence Earl Wray, Kimberly Anne Wray Perdue and James Daniel Wray; her daughter, Arielle Racine Fears and partner Walsh Moore, and her son Gregory Michael Fears and partner Ledra Botaku; her grandchildren Elijah Gregory Moore and Isaac Walsh Moore. She is loved and missed by nieces, nephews, her surviving cousins and the literally hundreds of people on the planet that basked, loved, and healed in the light of her beautiful soul.
Bettye Joe’s Services are as follows:
Tuesday 5/25 6-8:30PM Celebration of Life
St. Petersburg Women's Club 40 Snell Isle Blvd NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33704
After Celebration of Life Gathering 8:30-12AM The Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge 540 1st St SE Albert Whited Airport, Second Floor, St. Petersburg, FL
Wednesday 5/26 11AM Funeral St. Paul's Catholic Church
1800 12th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33704
Followed by a Funeral Lunch Reception 12PM Mom Wray's House (Joanne Wray)
4381 50th Terrace South St. Petersburg, FL 33711
In an attempt to maintain a responsible and safe environment for everyone, including children who attend, we are asking anyone that HASN'T gotten COMPLETELY vaccinated (two shots) to please wear a mask to all indoor gatherings.
Flowers may be sent to St. Paul’s catholic Church or to Joanne Wray’s House (Mom)
Donations May be made on her behalf to Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who supported her unceasingly to the end.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The day of BJo’s Funeral (May 26th) is also their Annual Giving Day and a special opportunity to Defy Cancer. Every donation given THAT DAY will be doubled, up to $250,000, thanks to a dedicated Dana-Farber Trustee.