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Elizabeth Roby Manners

North Branford

Published Nov. 18, 2019

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On Oct. 22 Elizabeth (Betsy) Anne Roby Manners, formerly of Branford and Clinton, died peacefully at the Evergreen Woods Health Center in North Branford after a long illness. Betsy was born to Annette Savage Roby and Sheldon Seymour Roby in 1925 in Meriden.

She graduated from Meriden High School in 1942 and from Pembroke College of Brown University in 1946. She taught kindergarten and elementary school art in Meriden and Narragansett, Rhode Island. At the end of WWII, she traveled to Paris by ship to take care of children orphaned by the war. It was on this boat that she met her future husband, the Rev. Roger E. Manners, from Nebraska. After a long-distance romance, they married in 1949, moving to Omaha, Nebraska, where they founded Countryside Community Church and had four children.

In 1959, the family returned to her home state of Connecticut, where Roger served as the senior minister of the First Congregational Church of Branford for more than 25 years. Betsy delighted in being both a mother and a pastor’s wife, bringing her compassion, sense of humor, and creativity to each role. Once her children were all in school, Betsy taught at the Mandana Armstrong Nursery School, later becoming the director. She loved sketching, painting, camping, boating, and most especially spending time with her grandchildren and canine companions.

In 1985, Roger and Betsy both retired and moved to Clinton, where they were active in the First Congregational Church of Westbrook. Together they founded a non-profit organization called The American Friends of the Asian Rural Institute (AFARI) to support mission work they deeply believed in. They spent time traveling and volunteered at ARI in Japan. In 2004, they moved into an apartment at Evergreen Woods in North Branford.

Betsy is predeceased by her husband Roger E. Manners and son-in-law Kevin Mullen. She is survived by her four children, Mary Elizabeth Manners of Beaverton, Oregon, John Manners of Branford, Roger Manners (Hideko) of Tokyo, Japan, and Julia Manners of Clinton; by five grandchildren, Emiko Yamamoto (Yugo), Kenzo Manners (Marie), Em McDermott (Kevin), Erin Wenker, and Nathaniel Wenker; and by three great-grandchildren, Shoei and Emma Yamamoto, and Niki Manners.

A celebration of Betsy’s life will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 2:00 p.m. at the Niantic Community Church, 170 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic. Contributions in Betsy’s memory may be made to AFARI, 2028 E. Ben White Blvd., 3240-9000, Austin, TX 78741, or online,

Betsy’s family wishes to thank our long-time devoted friend, Louise Lind, and the amazing staff of Evergreen Woods Health Center who lovingly cared for her for more than ten years. Arrangements are by the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home, in Centerbrook.

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