Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” (Pasquino) Deck, 83, died on February 16, 2020 at her home, encircled by the love and comfort of her family. Betsy was born on November 21, 1936 in Warren, Pennsylvania to Samuel Joseph and Josephine Elizabeth (Falbriski) Pasquino. Known in her early years as “Betty Ann”, she and her older sister, Marilyn, grew up in a small town surrounded by their many Polish and Italian relatives. In school, Betsy discovered her avid love of learning and she quickly became one of the top students in her class. Betsy found in every subject an opportunity for growth — she loved Shakespeare, botany, drawing, and history in equal measure — and she was one of the founding members of Warren High School’s National Honor Society.
After graduating as the Salutatorian of Warren High School Class of 1954, Betsy worked at Warren General Hospital as a technical laboratory assistant for 3 1/2 years. During this time, Betsy entered a beauty contest on a whim to support her friend and was both surprised and delighted when she was crowned Miss Warren County 1956. It was, in her words, “a glorious year” that was filled with many charitable events and the opportunity to meet Miss America as well as Wendell Ford, the future governor of and U.S. Senator for the State of Kentucky. Betsy’s reign also provided her with an enviable evening wardrobe that would offer her future daughters and their friends a seemingly endless supply of the world’s best dress-up clothes.
By early 1958, Betsy had gathered both the courage and the money to leave home and venture forth into the world. She accepted a job as a laboratory technician at New York Hospital - Cornell University Medical Center and arrived in New York City in the midst of a winter snowstorm. Betsy relished meeting people from every part of the world and she quickly whet her insatiable appetite for the arts, spending weekends at the Met, catching Broadway shows, attending the New York City Ballet, listening to live music at local clubs, and visiting various museums. To broaden her understanding of her ever-expanding world, she began attending night school at City College and Hunter College. Eventually, Betsy realized that she wanted to attend college full-time, and she thus entered Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in the fall of 1959. It was there that she met Joseph Charles Deck who was first her biology professor’s teaching assistant and soon became her betrothed.
Betsy and Joe married on June 10, 1961 and moved to Champaign, Illinois where Joe was pursuing his doctoral degree in chemistry. During this time, Betsy and Joe welcomed three children — Stacy, Joe, and Andy — in three years. When asked in her later years what it was like to live through the 1960s, Betsy replied, “I don’t remember the 1960s; I was focused on raising my children!”
In 1966, Betsy and her family moved to Louisville, Kentucky after Joe accepted a faculty position in the chemistry department at the University of Louisville. In 1970, they welcomed their fourth child, Jennifer, and their family was complete. Although Betsy was a stay-at-home mom, she brought her passion for education and the arts to the Jefferson County Public Schools. In the early 1970s, Betsy traveled to Frankfort, Kentucky, to testify before the state legislature about the need to fund programs for gifted and talented students, in addition to maintaining funding for special and general education programs, to ensure that all public school students received the support and materials that they needed to challenge themselves academically. Betsy also volunteered within the public schools to promote cultural opportunities for students. These events included annual field trips to hear The Louisville Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky’s “Peter and the Wolf” and inviting the Blue Apple Players to perform “Johnny Appleseed”.
As her children became independent, Betsy again redefined her goals. She enrolled at the University of Louisville in 1986 to complete her bachelor’s degree and took advantage of her time as a student to travel on the first of several trips abroad. As an English major, she spent a week in London and was delighted to attend the Globe Theater and visit the Victoria and Albert Museum. After she graduated in 1991, she worked for a few years while also serving as a tour guide at the Cathedral of the Assumption. At this time, she helped to begin a singles group for both younger and older people who were joined by their Catholic faith. This work was a perfect expression of Betsy’s devotion to God and her love of social events, and it was something in which she took great pride. It is a testament to Betsy that several married couples today can trace the origins of their relationship back to their days socializing at the Cathedral.
Betsy has spent the past couple decades treasuring each of her 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild as a unique expression of God’s love. She has attended countless school performances, athletic events, piano recitals, and ballet performances, as well as every Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. She always put her family first and welcomed any opportunity to babysit, pick blueberries, hike a mountain, or just “be” with her family. Even to the end, Betsy was sharing her wisdom and advice and inspiring every person who crossed her path to be the best version of themselves. Although her passing feels far too soon, her inspirational message of eternal love and the power of prayer and positivity will be a lasting legacy to those who were blessed to know her.
Betsy is preceded in death by Dr. Joseph C. Deck; her parents, Samuel and Josephine Pasquino; and her sister, Marilyn J. Nyberg.
She is survived by her four children and their families: Stacy Deck and Steven Wirth and their family (Justin, Carrie, and Samuel Wirth; Austin Wirth; Jessica and Patrick Harbeson; and Becca Shade); Joe and Ann-Marie Deck and their children (Joseph and Jacob); Andy and Jill Deck and their children (A.J., Kevin, Katelyn, and Lauren); and Jennifer and Matt Samuelson and their children (Emily, Hannah, and Paige).
Visiting hours will be held at Highlands Funeral Home, 3331 Taylorsville Road, on Friday, February 21st from 3pm to 7pm with a closing prayer service at 7pm.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 1920 Newburg Road, on Saturday, February 22nd at 11am with a reception immediately following in Aloysius Hall. All are welcome to attend, honor, and celebrate Betsy’s life.
Expressions of sympathy may be made in Betsy’s name to any charitable organization of the donor’s choosing.
The family is especially grateful to the staff at Treyton Oak Towers and to Dr. Adam Rojan for the exceptional care that Betsy received during the past year.