“Betsy” (Karen Elizabeth) Cain Nelson passed away on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, surrounded by her family and loved ones. She defied the odds and fought a brave five-year battle with metastatic breast cancer.
She was the seventh of 10 children born in Burlington to Francis and Mary Jane Cain. She is survived by her loving and devoted husband Ted Nelson Jr., her four children: Sam (Krystal), Sarah (Michael), Melinda (Joseph), and Karen (Joshua), her two grandchildren (Sadie and baby Squillace), her mother, her siblings and their spouses: Michael (Joanne), Bill (Marilee), Carolyn (Thomas) Breiner, Thom (Clarissa), Martha (Byron), Patty (Michael) Haynes, Susan (Bill) O’Brien, Barbara (Glen) Cousins, and Brian (Lilli), and many cousins, nieces, nephews and second cousins. Betsy is pre-deceased by her dad (Francis J. Cain) and special aunt (Sister Mary Virginia Cain, RMS).
At the heart of Betsy’s life were her family and a passionate dedication to love, kindness, safety, and generosity. It started in her youth with Betsy growing up in a large Irish catholic family and showing a strong penchant for scholastic and athletic activities at Rice Memorial High School (Class of ’75). She then earned a degree in English from Trinity College in Burlington. Betsy’s epic love story began when she went on a blind date and continued with a loving marriage to Ted. They were married on November 7, 1981 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington and had 39 fun, loving, adventurous, and joyful years together. During that time, Betsy brought into the world and together with Ted raised four children: Sam, Sarah and Melinda (identical twins) and Karen. Her love, generosity, and kindness echoes through she and Ted’s children with their successful lives and partnerships. Her dedication to people and her community was exemplified by her history of teaching, including her own preschool (“Happy Campers”), caregiving, including time spent as a certified EMT (Bethel/Randolph Rescue Squad) and as a skin cancer and lung research technician at the University of Vermont. She was an advocate with impactful work to increase awareness in cancer, domestic violence, gun safety, and reducing pediatric injury. In recent times, Betsy was most proud of her certification as a Tai Chi instructor and frequently offered free Tai Chi classes for Vermont’s aging population. She was truly the embodiment of kindness, selflessness, intelligence, love, and bravery. Her absence will be constantly felt by all who she touched.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Francis Xavier Church, Winooski, Vt., on Saturday, November 14 at 12:00 p.m. There will be a celebration of Betsy’s life held at a later date in a socially responsible manner. The family would like to thank the Oncology and Home Health and Hospice teams at the University of Vermont Health Network, and at Dana Farber Cancer Center (Boston, MA). In lieu of flowers, donations in Betsy’s memory may be made to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation or any other noble cause of choice.