Remembering Betty Lowman Carey
Beatrice (Betty) Annette Lowman Carey
Betty Lowman Carey, long-time Sandspit resident and familiar participant in community activities, was the beloved wife of Neil G. Carey and the mother of George Lowman Carey of Newport Beach, California, and Eugene Lowman Carey of Anacortes, Washington, the grandmother of George II, Jennifer, and Bryana, and great grandmother of Paul Carey.
Born in Anacortes, Washington, on 31 July 1914, and died on 16 March 2011 at age 96 in the Queen Charlotte Islands General Hospital. Betty was the first of five children born to Raymond B. and Jean F. Lowman and was predeceased by her brothers Will, John, Robert and George.
From early childhood Betty was a Christian, a leader in sports and scholarship. She refused to accept the premise that there were activities that she could not participate in because she was a female. Betty was locally famous at age fourteen as the youngest person to swim mile-wide Guemes Channel. She became a reporter and columnist for The Anacortes Daily Mercury while in high school. After graduating from Anacortes High School as valedictorian of the class of 1931, Betty won a scholarship to Pomona College and later earned a BA degree from the University of Washington.
Betty’s 66-day rowing trip in 1937 from Anacortes to Ketchikan, Alaska, in BIJABOJI, her Indian dugout canoe, led to speaking engagements and a cruise to Alaska in 1939 as a representative of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Betty also published numerous articles about commercial fishing based on her firsthand experiences reef-net fishing in Puget Sound in 1938 and halibut fishing in the Gulf of Alaska in 1939.
In 1940 Betty, always seeking adventure, was shipwrecked while crewing on a sailing schooner off the coast of Nova Scotia. While returning from Halifax to Anacortes in November 1940 she met Neil G. Carey, a sailor on U.S.S. COLORADO, and they were married in December 1941. Betty accepted a three-year contract with National School Assemblies as a lecturer telling about her canoe trip, the shipwreck of the schooner, and her experiences in wartime Halifax. Betty’s lectures were approved by the U.S. Treasury Department as contributing to national defense. As a navy wife during two wars she lived in Washington, D.C., Idaho, the U.S. west coast, Hawaii and Japan, always creating a pleasant home.
After the Korean War, Neil resigned his commission and the family began two summers of boating around Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, followed by 10 years in southern California, where Betty taught school, swimming, lifesaving and campcraft.
In 1963 she rowed from Ketchikan to Anacortes, the only woman known to have twice rowed a dugout between Washington and Alaska. In 1965 Betty and Neil moved to Sandspit and Puffin Cove, Queen Charlotte Islands. In 1969 they enjoyed a three-month trip around the world.
Betty and Neil continued to cruise around the Queen Charlotte Islands until 1993, photographing, beachcombing, transporting scientists and writing articles and books and enjoying their small cabin in lovely Puffin Cove. Both were in their 70s when they gave up boating and returned to Sandspit. Betty’s book, BIJABOJI, North to Alaska by Oar, the record of her 1937 dugout trip, was published in 2004.
In 2002 Betty was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease but continued to enjoy life at home until suffering a stroke early in 2010 when she entered the small but excellent Queen Charlotte Islands General Hospital as a Long Term Care patient.