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Betsy Larson Remembered

It was October 16, 2016, the day of the baby shower for Maisy Peterik when I happened to walk Betsy Larson from her car to the entrance of the Jam Lab where the event was being held.

I noticed a certain wistful look in her otherwise smiling eyes. “Jimmie, just got some bad news. I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct.” I tried to remain calm and offered her the standard encouraging word, but she seemed to possess a sixth sense about the journey she was about to take.

Thus started her brave battle with the cancer that rudely took her from us in the wee small hours of June 11th, 2017.

I remember clearly the gaggle of girls that surrounded us after the Ides Of March show at the Valley View Young Adults Club in Frankfort, Illinois – Friday night, February 29, 1970.

This date rings like a bell not only because it is the very day that “Vehicle” premiered on WLS, but also because two girls, Pam Stout and Betsy Resef, cuter and more attentive than the rest, emerged from the crowd and showed special interest in two of the Ides members. Pam took a special shine to guitarist and vocalist Larry Millas and Betsy to our lead horn player John Larson. Their interest was reciprocated and soon they were dating and double dating to beat the band.  Before you knew it wedding dates were being set for both couples. And it all started at Valley View!!!

Betsy through the years was a dear friend and confidant to all. She was a great listener and always gave advice in a non- judgmental way. And if a little vulgarity is the spice of charm, she served up a very tasty dish!

As one of the “Brides Of March” (Norma Bergland, Pam Millas, Betsy Larson, Karen Peterik and Cyndy Soumar- and a bit later Gail Millas, Patsy Larson, Chris May and Mary Jane Borch) their camaraderie was legendary and their parties could get a bit wild! I remember after one of their Soires, Karen Peterik revealed that they all got more than a little tipsy on sweet cherry suise! And Betsy was the ring leader!

She and John stayed close, even after they divorced and John married Patsy and Betsy married Zeno.

Through the years the Ides alumni have always remained like family, so it was a utter shock when the reality hit of the severity of Betsy’s illness. The flood of tears is not soon to abate. Betsy was a flawless gem (a term she must have used often as a sales person at her parent’s Orange Blossom jewelry store on the South side.) Her smile could light a room, her comfort was our cushion, her humor could curdle milk and we will miss her until we meet again.

Shine on Bets – we love you.

From the heart of Jim Peterik and all the Ides and Brides of March.  June 14, 2017