Article Image Alt Text

Betty Ruth Kondayan passed away peacefully on July 28, 2022, at the age of 92 at her home in Lexington.

Betty was born in Mobile, Alabama, and had an idyllic childhood in the (at that time) pastoral suburb of Spring Hill. She and her younger sister, Joanne (died 2007), were the daughters of Lester L. and Ruth E. English.

Betty claimed as her two spiritual/literal homelands Mobile, Alabama, from 1930 to 1945, and Istanbul, Turkey, from 1955 to 1970.

In Istanbul, she taught English to Turkish students at the American College for Girls (American Kiz Koleji) and married Ohannes Aram Kondayan, a professor at Robert College Academy (the men’s division of the institution), in early 1958. Their son, Haig Aram, was born that fall. Betty loved her students and teaching, and thought of the Istanbul years as “golden.” A prolific letter writer and good friend to many, she stayed in touch with several of her dear students until the time of her death.

She was educated at the University of Illinois, receiving her A.B. and A.M. in English in 1951 and 1952. Betty was a member of several honorary societies at UI, including Phi Beta Kappa her junior year. From 1952 to 1954, she taught at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. After a year in women’s residence work and PHD studies at Stanford, the call to teach again and to explore the world led her to Turkey.

The family came to the U.S. in 1970 when Betty entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison to pursue a degree in library science. In 1971 she was hired as a reference and public services librarian at Washington and Lee University. Ten years later she accepted an offer from Goucher College in Baltimore to be the head librarian. The family lived in Towson, Maryland, until 1987.

From 1987 to the present, Betty’s home was in Lexington. Aram died in 2002 at 97. Haig lives and works in Reston. Betty loved the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, and especially the many warm friendships she developed in Lexington, most recently including her beloved care givers. In her ‘free years,” Betty volunteered at the Rockbridge Historical Society, the Rockbridge Regional Library, and for over 10 years at both Stonewall Jackson Hospital and the W&L library’s Special Collections.

Until her death, Betty ardently pursued her passions — reading (all genres but especially history and biography (Napoleon, Hadrian among her favorites), classical music and opera, art history (a particular love for William Morris and Leonardo) and tennis on TV-she loved, and passionately rooted for Novak Djokovic. From 1954 to 2005 Betty traveled extensively along with Aram to most European countries, Central America and Canada, and all over the U.S and Turkey.

Family survivors, other than her son Haig, are her nieces Jennifer Hunt and Janet Semanik of Indiana and Illinois, a cousin, Susan Harmon of Seattle, and her beloved cat, Beau.

Haig extends his gratitude to Betty’s wonderful friends who meant so much to her, especially in her later years. He also thanks her loyal and devoted caregivers.

Dates and details will be provided shortly for a memorial gathering.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Rockbridge SPCA, Rockbridge Area Relief Association (RARA) or the Rockbridge Regional Library. N-G

The News-Gazette

The News-Gazette Corp.
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Latest articles

  • Swinging For Samuel

    Several local teams took part in the Swinging For Samuel Slowpitch Coed Benefit Softball Tournament on Aug. 7 in order to raise money for Samuel Golladay, an 18-year-old Rockbridge County native who is fighting a type of cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Winning the tournament, which took place at Brewbaker Field in Lexington and at Rivermont School Rockbridge in Fairfield, was No Mow Worries (pink shirts), who defeated Lexington Prescription Center (green shirts) in the finals. Over $2600 was raised. (Antia McDaniel photo)

    Wed, 08/17/2022 - 12:00am
  • Wed, 08/17/2022 - 12:00am
  • Gridiron Turf Upgraded

    RODNEY JORDAN, owner and operator of Rock HavenTurf Specialties, drives on the newTahoma 31 Bermudagrass onTuesday of last week at PM’s Bobby Williams Field. Thanks to donations, the bermudagrass was installed over the last few months and will be ready for use for the upcoming football season. (Jonathan Schwab photo)

    Wed, 08/17/2022 - 12:00am