BLACK HISTORY PROFILE: MaVyneeBetsch — Beach Lady of American Beach

By Breanna McKnight Campus Press Staff Columnist

(ORIGINALLY POSTED IN Jan-Feb 2017 EDITION)

MaVyneBetsch or otherwise known as “Beach Lady” was a singer and environmental activist. Born on January 13, 1935 in Jacksonville, Florida, she was part of one of the most distinguished black families in the South. Betsch is the daughter of Mary and John Betsch and the great-granddaughter of Abraham Lincoln Lewis, founder of Florida’s oldest African American beach. She was educated at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and after 1995 Betsch moved to Europe where she was an opera singer for ten years. However, since 1975 Betsch has made it her full-time job to protect and preserve American Beach from development and destruction.

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Donates to Protect Environment:  This is how she earned he famous nickname, “Beach Lady” for her dedication and numerous efforts to protect the inhabitants of the beach. She gave her life savings (approximately $750,000) to sixty environmental organizations and causes, ten of which she was a lifetime member. Betsch was also featured on CBS, CNN and had articles in Southern Living, Coastal Living, Essence, and  Smithsonian.  Even after being diagnosed with cancer in 2002, which caused the removal of her stomach. “Beach Lady” continued on her missions that help and benefit others. She made plans for the American Beach Museum that opened in 2014.  Her sister, Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, president of Bennett College for women in Greensboro, N.C., was also the president of Spelman College, a women’s college in Atlanta, Ga. MaVyne Betsch passed away on September 5, 2005, at her home on American Beach.

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