Photograph by Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch

Her Irish eyes still smiling In early May, a few weeks before her 90th birthday, BettyAnn Dillon, W’49, boarded a plane bound for Ireland to see one of her favorite trios, the Celtic Tenors. Her reason was simple: “I’m one of their groupies.”

The distance she traveled to get there is far greater than the miles she flew over the Atlantic Ocean.

In November 2018, Dillon and her daughter Sandy Miller were on their way to a small Baptist church in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, that Dillon’s grandparents helped establish. On the way, an oncoming truck crossed into their lane and hit them head on. Dillon came to quickly, but her daughter did not survive.

In the months that followed, DiIlon’s considerable volunteer work gave way to more immediate concerns: her grief, a crushed wrist, broken ribs, various leg injuries, and a concussion. But her inner determination, guided by her religious faith, did not waver. Within months, she was scheduling committee meetings around physical therapy appointments.

“I’ve always defined myself as willing hands,” she said. “They’ve never been empty. I try to live in such a way that somebody will say, ‘Gee, how does she do that?’”

Her inner determination, guided by her religious faith, did not waver.

Aside from athletics, Dillon has held just about every volunteer position the university has to offer, including trustee. The best thing she learned at Westhampton was really two things, she said. “One was to roll with the punches, and the other is there’s always something coming along. God will look after you.

“It makes no rational sense to take the 55-year-old and leave the 89-year-old,” she said. “The general answer is, ‘Well, there’s something else he wants you to do,’ to which my response is, ‘Well, I wish he’d hurry up and tell me what it is.’”

Until she knew, there was that trip to Ireland to take.