Bettie Jane McDonald, 77, legislative aide, volunteer


Bettie Jane McDonald, a political campaign manager and legislative aide, died Sunday of complications from heart disease and cancer at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. She was 77 and lived in Timonium.

In the 1970s, she became active in Baltimore County Republican politics. She managed the 1978 campaign of Charles Lee for the County Council, creating campaign strategy, recruiting volunteers and organizing door-to-door canvassing. Despite her efforts, her candidate lost in the general election.

"She was an extremely well-organized person, very focused," said Anne Lee, wife of the candidate, who lives with her husband in Timonium. "She was also a person of great personal principles."

After the campaign, she served as a legislative aide to A. Wade Kach, a Republican member of the House of Delegates who represents Cockeysville. She researched legislation, answered his correspondence and met with constituents from 1978 to 1982.

In 1960 and 1970, she worked for the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington as a field review leader who supervised 15 census enumerators.

Mrs. McDonald also was a church volunteer. In the mid-1980s, she was a member of Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill, where she was a lay reader and chalicist. She also served breakfasts to the homeless.

She then became a communicant of Epiphany Episcopal Church in Timonium, where her funeral was held Thursday.

As part of her church work, she made home and hospital visits to persons with AIDS and volunteered at Bread and Beans, a Fells Point soup kitchen. She also coordinated meal delivery to the housebound infirm. She had been a member of the Epiphany vestry.

For more than 40 years, she had been active in Baltimore County charities and civic associations. She was a former president of the Rotary Inner Wheel of Parkton, a former president of the Valley Women's Club and a Girl Scout Leader.

In the 1950s, she had been vacation Bible school director of St. James Episcopal Church in Monkton.

Born in Brookville, Pa., Bettie Costlow was a 1942 graduate of Towson High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Towson State Teachers College in 1949. She also studied at Baltimore County Community College at Essex and at the University of the South.

In the 1950s she taught at Stemmers Run and Hereford junior high schools.

In 1949 she married Norval Harrison McDonald, a former Genstar Corp. manager. He survives her.

Mrs. McDonald also is survived by a son, the Rev. Nick McDonald of Bel Air; a daughter, Kimberley Anne McDonald of Minneapolis, Minn.; a brother, Dr. John Costlow of Beaufort, N.C.; and two granddaughters.

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