Betsy McVay, widow of Hawai'i entertainment impresario, dead at 73
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
At this time of year, Betsy McVay would normally be in her kitchen, whipping up loaf after loaf of her famous rum cake, the aroma wafting blocks away. It was her holiday passion to bake a gift for friends she knew appreciated the goodie for a Christmas dessert.
In her earlier years, Betsy McVay was active in the theatrical forum, busy in civic club work and supportive as an entertainment impresario's wife.
"She was amazing," said daughter Melissa Mateo, of Hacienda Heights, Calif. "She would do things in her wheelchair getting around like everyone else."
Multiple sclerosis curbed McVay's mobility but not her spirit. She'd tool around in her tiny kitchen to bake cakes for friends.
After Kimo died in 2001 at age 73, she moved into a retirement residence, Kulana Hale Senior Apartment on South Beretania Street.
"She made friends everywhere she went and when they were taking her from Kulana Hale to the hospice facility, the whole building turned out (to wish her well)," said Mateo.
In her earlier years, McVay was active in the theatrical forum, busy in civic club work and supportive as an entertainment impresario's wife.
A former English and drama teacher, she performed in the 1950s and '60s in numerous Oumansky Magic Ring Theater productions in the Tiare Room of the Hilton Hawaiian Village and also at the Honolulu Community Theatre (now Diamond Head Theatre).
McVay was born Sept. 21, 1930, in Virginia. She married Kimo Wilder McVay in 1956 in Richmond, Va.
"Most people never knew mom's real name," Mateo said. It was Elizabeth Jarman Hankins McVay. "She hated Elizabeth and didn't want anyone to know," Mateo said.
Most folks also don't know that McVay was a closet singer and composer; she had a throaty voice and she sang only songs she composed.
McVay is survived by daughters Melissa Mateo and Lindsay Roberson; a sister, Kittie Hankins; and five grandchildren.
She was an avid bridge player and "really strong in her Christian faith," said Mateo.
A private service will be held today at O'ahu Cemetery.
Reach Wayne Harada at email@example.com, 525-8067 or fax 525-8055.