School 13

Betsy McCormick

November 27, 2021


Betsy McCormick died November 27, 2021.  She was so much to so many people – an identical twin sister, a wife, a mom, a Greemie to her grandkids, a Packer fan, a stock-market enthusiast, and a nurturing and loyal friend.

She was a diligent researcher and a devoted reader of news and novels.  She spent much of her adult life working as a passionate advocate for women and children, bringing a bright laugh, a strong opinion and a fierce fight and focus to her work.  She shared her love of her family and the Green Bay Packers everywhere she went. 

Though she fought a life-long battle with disability, she spent years caring for others and worked to address injustice, call attention to unfairness, and promote community involvement.

Betsy grew up in Bonduel Wisconsin near [Image] Green Bay.  Her grandparents were instrumental in keeping the Acme Meat Packers football team in the city, as it was a publicly held company in the late 1940s.  Her family secured season tickets on the 40-yard line and a love of the team.  Watching the games at Lambeau Field were a highlight of Betsy’s life, even naming her little Yorkie dog Curly Lambeau after the famed Packer.

Betsy obtained her undergraduate teaching and graduate degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  Upon graduation she moved to Chicago.  After starting as a school librarian in Evanston, IL, she moved on to the graduate Dental Library of Northwestern University and ultimately became the head librarian of the Joseph Brennemann Library at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  While at Children’s she was instrumental in developing the first Medical Library certification examination.  At the dawn of the computer age, she helped develop the Medline system with Mini Alfanus at the University of Chicago.  This innovation transformed medical informatics from a time and labor-intensive search of card catalogues and stacks of journals to the almost instantaneous searches we have today.

Betsy met her husband, Dr. Steven Lelyveld, at Children’s Memorial Hospital when he was an intern in pediatrics.  As he was dependent on the library for his education, he came in frequent contact with Betsy and knew it was in his own self-interest to cultivate a close working relationship.  They were married in 1976. 

In addition to her work in the research library, Betsy was active throughout her life in the Chicago community.  Through the Junior League, she helped organize Family Focus, a drop-in center to assist struggling women with small children.  

As a member of the Woman’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo, she was active in the fundraising activities that help keep LPZ one of the last free zoos in the country.  The Board also supports a farm-in-the-zoo for urban children to experience farm life up close and such beloved activities as “Caroling to the Animals” at Christmas time.  As a member of the Board of the Woman’s Athletic Club of Chicago, and its 626 Landmark Foundation, Betsy helped restore and maintain one of Michigan Avenue’s architectural jewels while working closely with many treasured friends.

Through her fundraising as a member of the Chicago Historical Society Woman’s Board, their collection of artifacts - from the bed President Lincoln died in, through the Great Chicago Fire and into the present - is displayed for the education of all and is free to students in Chicago.

Betsy and Steve raised their daughter, Katie, in Chicago a few blocks from the zoo, and spent decades of summers together at their home in Fontana on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. 

Betsy spent her final years in White Sands of La Jolla near her family, who cared for her dutifully every day for the nearly three years she needed more intensive support.  During the 8 months of pandemic lockdown, her family could regularly be seen waving with balloons and signs from the beach, four floors down from her room so that she might see them, maintaining a lifelong commitment to making her happy. 

She is survived by her husband, Steven Lelyveld, her daughter Katie McCormick Lelyveld and her family, her sister Susan McCormick Hadley and her family, and her brother David McCormick and his family, and by cousins too numerous to count.

Interment has been privately held.


In lieu of flowers, please support Family Focus Lawndale, a pioneering not-for-profit family support organization, in Betsy’s honor.  []

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Betsy McCormick, please visit our floral store.


Private Service


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