Elizabeth Walton Furlow
Elizabeth Walton Furlow lost a valiant battle with lymphoma on May 5, 2012, at age 54. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, she grew up in Gainesville, Florida, playing in our yard and the neighboring pasture, and exploring our creek, finding sharks’ teeth. She loved being with her brothers and her cousin Lisa at her grandparents’ house on the waters of Crystal River, Florida. For her entire life she loved swimming, kayaking, and just being outdoors.
She was a 1976 graduate of P.K. Yonge High School, for two years attended Agnes Scott in Decatur, then returned to the University of Florida to graduate with high honors in 1980.
Her interest in museums, which developed when she was introduced to the Florida Museum of Natural History by her mother, Libby Furlow, resulted in a Masters Degree from Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies in Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1987. Her summer project involved a 12,000-mile round-trip drive alone from Gainesville to Mt. McKinley and Homer, Alaska,] with a stop in Ketchikan for a project that provided the experience and the data for her thesis.
After museum work in Jackson, Mississippi, she worked in Madison at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center and conducted oral histories on some of Madison’s citizens. She enjoyed the time spent with her maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Truitt while living in the old home (the “Boat House”) of her paternal great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Furlow.
In 1992 after working at the “millionaires’ cottages” on Jekyll Island, she moved to Seattle, Washington, where she was curator at the Boeing Field Museum of Flight, then at the Museum of History and Industry. There she met her life’s partner, Melissa Miller, who cared for her and who took care of her to the end of her life. In 2006 they moved to
Baltimore where Beth remodeled a house herself, and joined the staff of her graduate school in Cooperstown, a long-distance job she performed until just before the end of her life. A brief move to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, ended with the diagnosis of her lymphoma in May, 2010. Treatment in Boston, then Seattle, could not cure her.
Beth in her youth, Elizabeth in her later professional life, she was a quiet scholar who set and demanded high standards, but if her expectations were not met, rather than accept lower standards she tended to avoid controversy by moving on. She was fearless physically, and fun with close, long-term friends from each of the places she lived. Her innate curiosity led her to learn from others such diverse skills as auto repair, photography and cabinetry. She could not help taking care of people and animals less fortunate. She was never without a book. She had a remarkable memory.
She is survived by Melissa Miller; her parents, Elizabeth T. Furlow and Leonard T. Furlow, Jr.; her brothers Trey Furlow (Dara), John Furlow (Nancy), and her four nieces, Eva, Tessa, Lila and Sadie Furlow.
Beth was a wonderful, quiet presence in our lives. We will miss her dearly.
A graveside service conducted by Rev. Lane Jenkins will be held at 11 AM Saturday, July 7, followed by a luncheon outside at The Brady Inn. In lieu of flowers, contributions to The Ron and Dianne Farb Climb for Cancer Foundation, 5745 SW 75th St #317, Gainesville FL 32608, or to The Elizabeth Walton Furlow Fund, #3590389851, BECU PO Box 97050, Seattle, WA 98124, would be much appreciated.
Printed in the June 21, 2012 edition