Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 8, 2012

Elizabeth "Betty" Wardwell Ewing


TRAVERSE CITY — Elizabeth "Betty" Wardwell Ewing passed peacefully in her sleep Nov. 4, at the age of 104. Born May 20, 1908, in Thomas, W.Va., to Joseph and Agatha (Mazitis) Narakas, baptized Elzbieta Norejko.

Betty was proud of her Lithuanian heritage and lived a full life. She often shared stories of her life, family and grandparents, Teresa and Alexander Mazitis. They risked everything to come to America after Lithuania became czarist-ruled, leaving the people with no rights. Her grandfather arrived first about 1885, earning a poor man's dollar as a coal miner; his wife and daughter, Agatha, arrived in 1890. Betty's family saved for five years for passage. They all survived a risky escape and their meager savings only paid for travel in steerage on an immigrant ship.

Betty moved to Detroit in 1926 for work. She always found a job - "doing a man's work for a woman's pay."

Betty married Hubert Wardwell in 1928, an employee of Chrysler's; he was one of the first UAW union organizers. In 1947 she remarried, Archie Ewing, a railroad employee.

Betty was a loyal Democrat and union supporter.

Betty loved to crochet, read and "EAT CHOCOLATE!"

Surviving are five of her six children, Patricia (George) Hollon, of Buckley, Jean Eisbrenner, of Traverse City, John Wardwell Sr., of Sterling Heights, Catherine Kulich, of Bozeman, Mont., and Joann Ewing (Brian Bensett), of Traverse City. All her grandchildren were her favorites; 16 grandchildren; 32 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren survive Grandma Betty.

Betty lost a son, Donald Wardwell, who had Friedreich's ataxia; she cared for him his entire life.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial gathering is being planned for late spring.

Contributions in her name may be directed to the Commission on Aging, 520 W. Front St., Suite B, Traverse City, MI 49684 or to muscular dystrophy.

Share your memories at

The family is being served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.