Ruth Elizabeth “Betty” Baxter Sternad, 94, a long-time resident of Wilton and Norwalk, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family, on Aug. 29. She was preceded in death by her husband, George Charles Sternad Jr., her parents Frank and Edith Tinkham Steer Baxter, her stepmother Sunny, her half-brother Glenn Baxter and half-sister Carol Taylor.
Betty was born on Sept. 19, 1926 in Yonkers, NY and raised in Scarsdale, NY. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College and Masters of Physical Education from Wellesley College. In 1950, as a trailblazer for her time, she packed her bags and headed across the country for her first job as a physical education professor at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). She later taught physical education at Greenwich High School after marrying George in 1952.
Betty was very active in the Wilton community, serving as one of the founders of the Wilton Woman’s Club, where she was elected the club’s first president in 1966, and again at age 70. She also served on the Wilton Parks and Recreation Commission, the board of the Wilton YMCA, as a volunteer at Ogden House Wilton, and in various roles at the Wilton Congregational Church, where she sang soprano in the choir.
In 1991, Betty was honored with the Distinguished Citizen Award for making a significant difference in the quality of life in Wilton through her longstanding volunteer service to the community.
As an avid lover of sports and the outdoors, Betty loved her family’s home on the shores of Great Pond in Belgrade Lakes, ME and her time as a camper and counselor at Wyonegonic Camps in Denmark, ME. She also loved her summers with George on the Trent River in Canada.
Betty’s heart was as big as her infamous smile. She never hesitated to help those in need. Upon her passing, a procession of caregivers at Meadow Ridge, where she resided the past 11 years, lined up to acknowledge the patient who made coming to work during the pandemic a bit brighter.
She is survived by her three children Shelley (John) Dempsey of Wilton and Naples, FL, Ken (Judy) Sternad of Peachtree Corners, GA, and Allyson “Pookie” (Peter) Hotz of Devon, PA; 10 grandchildren; one great-grandson; and several nieces and nephews.
Services and internment will be planned at a later date. Donations can be made to the Elizabeth Sternad Scholarship at the Wilton Woman’s Club, P.O. Box 414, Wilton, CT 06897.