It is with great sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of Betty Mae Tarr on November 3rd, 2020. Betty died peacefully at home, in her sleep, of heart failure at the age of 82. Pre-deceased by her beloved husband of 28 years, Charles Robert ‘Bob’ Tarr, Betty is survived by her three children Bruce Tarr, Susan Tarr Timmins, and Patrick Tarr, as well as her brother Wilbert Craig ‘Buzz’ Smyth, and sister Coleene Shewchuk.
The eldest child of Wilburt Fielding Smyth of Fort William, and Jessie May (MacLean) Smyth of Fort-Coulonge Quebec, Betty was born in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) on June 23, 1938. Betty grew up with her beloved younger siblings Alice (d. 1988), Buzz, and Coleene. Even as Betty found herself moving away from Thunder Bay, across the country and back several times, she kept in touch with her siblings and their families throughout her life.
Betty graduated from high school in Fort William, and later the McKellar General Hospital School of Nursing in 1959. She then moved to Toronto to begin her nursing career. Soon, she met her future husband Bob Tarr (b. Moosejaw, 1937). Married at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Port Arthur on July 28, 1962, Betty stepped away from nursing as she moved first to Calgary and then to Vancouver with Bob, where her three children were born between 1964 and 1970. Over the course of Bob’s career, first with Bird Construction and then with PCL, their busy lives saw them moving back to Toronto, then to Edmonton, and then back and forth between those two cities once again. Everywhere they went, Bob and Betty formed a circle of close friends and neighbours and found time to travel to destinations around the world, a passion that would continue throughout Betty’s life.
After Bob’s death at the age of 54 in 1991, Betty moved back to Toronto and embarked on a new chapter, embracing countless close friendships, and joyfully welcoming her children’s spouses Peter Timmins (Susan), Elisabeth Brückmann (Patrick), and Tami Benaroia (Bruce) into the family. She devoted decades of her unfailing energy and kindness in her role as an active and loving grandmother to Bruce’s daughters, Charlotte and Hannah Tarr, Susan and Peter’s children, Leo and Anna Timmins, and Patrick and Elisabeth’s son Owen Tarr. As well, she formed a close bond with her step-grandson Adrian Benaroia, his wife Grace, and their children Calla and Milo. But Betty also played a motherly or grandmotherly role to so many of her friends’ children and grandchildren, taking a lifelong interest in their careers and families, and encouraging all to pursue what made them most happy.
Betty lived the last phase of her remarkable life in a condo overlooking High Park, where she enjoyed a rich social life and continued to travel around the world. She leaves an indelible legacy as a vibrant, witty, and unfailingly generous woman, whose thoughtfulness and warmth constantly surprised and delighted her friends and family. Her easy laugh, bright smile, and deep compassion for everyone she knew will be missed more than words can express.
Online condolences may be made here, and photos of Betty through the years will also be shared. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to The Hospital for Sick Children (sickkids.ca), where Betty volunteered for many years, helping children and their families find hope in the most challenging times of their lives. May Betty’s abiding memory do the same for all who knew her.