NAPA, CAILF.—Frances Earnest “Betsy” Bussells passed away February 28, 2022, from natural causes surrounded by people who loved her. She had been living in Napa, Calif., since 2017 when she joined her daughters, her granddaughter, and their families, because it was becoming difficult for her to live alone. She will be returned to her beloved Northern Neck and buried next to her husband Isaac “Bud” Bussells.
Betsy was born April 10, 1926, in a convent in Saumur, France, to Frances Campbell Earnest and Herbert L. Earnest. Her father had been invited to attend the French Cavalry School there. As her father was a career Army officer she happily spent her childhood on Calvary bases throughout the Midwest and Southeast.
When her father was stationed in Washington, D.C., they bought their first home and Betsy attended the National Cathedral School for Girls. As World War II neared, her father moved the family out of D.C. and to relative safety in the Northern Neck. They bought Riverview Landing on the Rappahannock River, just outside of White Stone. She had many stories of being a teenager in the summers there with her own little boat and a large group of friends, many of whom remained her lifelong friends. She attended and graduated from St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock in 1944 and then attended Hollins College.
She married and over the course of 10 years had four children: Ann born in Virginia, Ted and Fred born in Texas, and Molly born in Washington, D.C. The family moved from Virginia to Los Angeles in January 1965. All the children graduated from high school in California, and now single again in 1977 she moved back to the Northern Neck to take care of her mother until she passed away. Betsy then made the good decision to remain there and purchased her own home in White Stone. She lived there for 37 years.
Then followed the happiest part of her adult life. She involved herself in the community and Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church in Weems. She worked a variety of jobs, including as a bank clerk, then as a secretary and assistant in a tax office, and then an insurance office. She was then a program coordinator for the Senior Learning Department on the Community College.
Betsy worked tirelessly raising funds for the Boy Scouts Camp; she was a charter member and later secretary of the Lancaster County Crime Solvers. At her church she headed up a group of ladies called the “Knit Wits” where she taught several women how to knit and the group produced many afghans to be given to new babies and members of the community who would benefit from a warm blanket.
She reconnected with friends from her high school group, the most significant of which was Isaac ‘Bud’ Bussells. When they married some years later, they had known each other for 50 years. They had a sailboat (the Jennifer Lee) for several years and then they wanted to wander farther and purchased a Maine Trawler (the Katie Brown). They explored the Chesapeake and then went up and down the Inland Waterway and spent one winter on the boat in Florida. They loved being on the water and took a river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg in Russia, and then they took a freighter down the East Coast, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia. They got off the ship and spent a month in Australia, then flew to Los Angeles, connected with family, rented a car, and then drove home via Canada.
They went together to a 50th Anniversary commemoration in Guam where Bud served as a Marine during World War II. Betsy and Ann went to France in 1994 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of Brittany, France, where her father had commanded troops.
After the boats became too difficult to manage, they spent a couple of years driving a fifth wheel and spent another winter in Florida.
Bud passed away in September 2015 and in 2017 she moved to Napa, to be with her family.
Betsy was a strong woman who stood up for herself, was very resilient, healthy, and moved very quickly. She loved opera, classical music, all kinds of art and dancing. She loved being on a boat and traveling. She was an excellent needleworker doing embroidery, needlepoint, crochet and most especially knitting. She taught numerous other people to knit and continued herself until her hands just would not work anymore. For years she always carried a knitting bag and a current project for times when she might have to wait. She made helmet liners for Marines stationed in Afghanistan, and adorable little teddy bears for small children that she donated to Christmas boxes.
Betsy would enjoy almost any sports game on TV, but she was a dyed in the wool baseball fan especially the then Washington Senators when she was a teen, and then the Washington Nationals. When they won the World Series in 2019 she could not have been anymore delighted.
She always knew what was going on in the world, and her children grew up knowing it was important to stay informed and to always vote.
She is already missed greatly.
Betsy was predeceased by her parents, Frances Campbell Earnest and General Herbert Ludwell Earnest; her brother, Clyde Tener Earnest and his wife, Marie Earnest; her son, Edward Frederick Earnest Craver; and her husband, Isaac ‘Bud’ Bussells.
She is survived by her children, Cynthia Ann Holmes (Dennis), Theodore Frankton Craver Jr. (Marian) and Molly Craver Peck (Rob); grandchildren, Clifford Tait Holmes, Theodore Frankton Craver III (Nellie), Mary Celeste Mikel (B.J.), Elizabeth Craver Carlitz (Jared), Cameron Elizabeth Shaw (Edgar), Timothy Tener Shaw (Nora); and nine great-grandchildren, Ted, Evelyn, Charles and Lucas Craver, Ella, Michael and Jonathan Carlitz, and Talia and Daniela Cruz.
She is also survived by her niece, Barbara Earnest Dawson (Larry); grandnephews, Chris Dawson and Chandler Dawson (Heather); great-grandnieces Campbell Dawson and Addy Dawson; and great-grandnephew Tener Dawson. Also her nephew, Herbert Ludwell Earnest II (Dot) and their sons, Jim and Joe.
Many heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been a caregiver to Betsy over these last few years. You are truly angels and we really needed you. Special thanks to Collabria for hospice care; love to Monica, Rapini, Chrissy and Krystal at Napa Senior Living.
A service will be held at at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12, at Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church in Weems. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church, 3712 Weems Road, Weems, VA, 22576, in memory of Frances E. Bussells.
Currie Funeral Home LLC of Kilmarnock handled the arrangements.