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Betsey Cronan (1948 - 2009)
West Urbana Neighborhood Advocate

photo of Betsey in Provence

In 2009, the community lost, Betsey Cronan, an individual who had a positive impact on many people's lives. She was first and foremost a mother and wife. She took an active part in her sons' lives, providing structure, encouragement, unconditional love, and of course chauffeuring. (Photos of the Cronans on some of their most recent travels/adventures)

She was a resident of Urbana for 30 years. As a young mother she was both a parent and much loved teacher at the Cooperative Preschool. Photos from her time as a teacher at the Cooperative Preschool.

When her children entered Leal School, she became an active member of the PTA. She shepherded through a new Leal playground, initially working with Bev Rauchfuss and others to coordinate with a University of Illinois landscape architecture class and Leal School teachers and students to obtain a plan for the playground. She along with Diane Marlin and Joan Slater decided on the equipment, ground maps, etc. and organized fund raising efforts to bring it to fruition.

Betsey and Casandra Perkins in Grigg St. Pottery
Betsey and Casandra Perkins in Grigg St. Pottery
In addition to being an engaged citizen and teacher, Betsey was a talented professional potter. She started this love of hers by becoming a member of the CU Potters' Club when it was at the Thornburn Center, moving to the Boneyard Pottery and then starting her own Griggs Street Pottery. Her artistry and craft continued to improve through the years.

WUNA residents will remember her as a tireless advocate for preserving our neighborhood. She attended many Urbana City Council meetings as a WUNA representative in support of rental registration, historic preservation and retaining or expanding single family homes in the WUNA area. Betsey was instrumental in getting funding for the streets signs designating historic areas and convincing the city that they were needed. She was a representative on various city committees that informed and advised the city on policy decisions.
Betsey - Habitat for Humanity
Betsey helping on the Women's Habitat for Humanity Project
Betsey was on the Urbana Development Review Board of the Mixed Office and Residentia District, the Mayor's Neighborhood Safety Task Force and the newly created non-profit Urbana Development Group. The Urbana Development Group buys and rehabilitates houses for single family owner-occupied housing. Being an artist, she was also a board member of 40 North, Champaign County Arts, Culture and Entertainment Council.

Betsey and John's house was granted local historic landmark status. To preserve their neigborhood, they bought the houses beside them, restored them and returned them to single family status. She also converted an older home near University Ave. to her Griggs Street Pottery. A community unveiling (taking the aluminum siding off) of one of their homes was organized shortly before her death. Photos from the unveiling.

Betsey and neighborhood friends
Betsey with WUNA friends

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