Folsom Funeral Service

Gray, Elizabeth

August 13, 1929 – January 27, 2020

Elizabeth “Bettina” Gray, of Dedham, Massachusetts, 90, passed away quietly on Monday, January 27th, at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Needham, Massachusetts, in the company of her children, Elizabeth T. (“Liz”) Gray, Jr. and Francis C. (“Sam”) Gray III.

Bettina was born in New York City in 1929, the only child of Lewis S. (“Pinkie”) Thompson, of New York, and Elizabeth Craighead Thompson, of New Orleans, Louisiana. Her mother remarried Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Julian P. Brown, and Bettina was educated in California and Puerto Rico. In 1947 she enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where she met and became lifelong friends with Grace Kelly, and later was a bridesmaid in Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956. Her love of acting, and of the theatre, remained lifelong.

She married Francis C. Gray, Jr. of Boston, in April 1950, and moved to Belmont and then to Dedham. They divorced in 1974. In the following decades Bettina divided her time between Dedham and Prouts Neck, Maine, and was active—as an actress, advisor, and supporter—in several local theatre companies in southern Massachusetts, including the Fiddlehead Theatre Company in Norwood. Bettina was a voracious reader, with an endless curiosity about the world and people in it. Consistent with her fearless and exploratory nature, she traveled extensively in Asia and Africa.

She is survived by her brother, her children, and her grandchildren. Her brother Walter G. “Hilly” Thompson and his wife, Nancy, have four children. Her daughter Liz married Alfred “Chip” Loomis in 1993, and they have twin sons William and Samuel. Her son Sam, of Wellesley and South Dartmouth, married Gay Atkinson in 1982, and they have three children, Katherine, Elizabeth, and William.

A service to celebrate Bettina’s life will be held at St. Paul’s Church in Dedham 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday February 18, 2020, with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, Bettina would have liked you to consider a donation in her memory to the Wellesley Theatre Project, at or by mailing a check to The Wellesley Theatre Project, 219 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA, 02481.

Guestbook Entries

  1. mary hayward
    February 6th, 2020 | 12:41 pm

    I adored her.

  2. Alan Thomas
    February 6th, 2020 | 4:52 pm

    So very sorry to hear of Bettinas passing. I will forever remember her and the amazing life she led. Especially the time we spent performing at the Fiddlehead theater in Norwood. The smiles, the joy, the love remains. God Bless your loving soul my friend and the hearts of your family and friends whose lives you touched. Rest in Peace my dear.

  3. Ed DiMarzio
    February 7th, 2020 | 9:42 am

    It is sad to hear she is gone. We shared many wonderful onstage and off memories, laughs and interests. Rony and I will truly miss her.

    Ed & Rony DiMarzio

  4. Sally Reid
    February 9th, 2020 | 6:21 pm

    My family and I enjoyed a warm across-the-back fence friendship for more than two decades. Our beagle (Bettina referred to her as the “hound”) barked incessantly at times, which Bettina predicted would put her “in McLean.” Of course Bettina was way to strong minded to succumb to a mere dog! She was smart, opinionated and dramatic (of course), with a wicked sense of humor, and I greatly enjoyed our conversations over a glass of wine (or two). She was always a generous and lovely neighbor.

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Folsom Funeral Service

Folsom Funeral Service