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Betty Mae White Cantino
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Birth: Feb. 12, 1950
York County
South Carolina, USA
Death: Mar. 12, 2004
Marina District
San Francisco County
California, USA

By Andrew Dys
South Carolina Herald

Back in July, a bunch of community activists -- people 'round here would probably call them troublemakers -- gathered in Moscone Park in San Francisco. The ceremony honored a top-flight rabble-rouser named Betty White.

White, 54, was walking her dog when she was hit by a San Francisco city bus on March 11, 2004. The accident was close to the same intersection where White had tried to get a stop sign put up.

She died the next day.

A ceremony was held 27 months after she died because her family convinced the city to put a plaque on a bench in the park White so loved. A California Assemblyman named Leland Yee spoke -- the man whose district White lived and fought and died in. White called Yee's office so much her phone calls were just from 'Betty.'

Yee presented White's family with a California legislature Certificate of Recognition, and a resolution. California honored "her lifelong dedication to educating the children of San Francisco, and her exemplary service to our community." It stated "We hope that her memory will live on for years to come."

Betty White was from Smyrna -- the smallest town in South Carolina, in western York County.

She was the fourth child of eight in a farm family. Her oldest sister, Irene, was married to Bob Bolin, the Major League Baseball pitcher from western York County who pitched for the San Francisco Giants. Betty, after high school, moved to California where her sister lived.

"We lived in a small house in the country in Smyrna," said Dianne Taylor, White's youngest sister. "Betty went to California, to the big city, and she just found her place in life."

And what a life it was.

A car wreck a few years after White moved to California left her unable to work a regular job. She lost one eye. Irene Bolin said White had multiple broken bones and had to learn many brain and body functions all over again.

"To say Betty was strong-willed is an understatement," Bolin said.

So White worked by plunging into making San Francisco better. She had no children, but she cajoled $50,000 in seed money from Gap stores for a children's playground in Moscone Park.

White started a push that eventually kept a huge drugstore from building a monstrosity in her historic district neighborhood. She founded the Magnolia Street Neighbors and coordinated volunteer emergency work and resident training after the 1989 earthquake.

At the time of her death, White was lobbying for the park's recreation center to be restored and for a neighborhood library to be improved.

White would come home to western York County every so often to see six brothers and sisters who still live there, but rarely talked about her exploits. Only after she died did many, including sister Ruby Sutton, find out how many lives White touched.

"I was amazed, and proud, that my sister gave almost her whole life to the people of San Francisco," Sutton said.

The plaque on the bench states Betty White Cantino -- Cantino was her late husband's name, but she was known always as Betty White -- "dedicated her life to family, friends, and community."

It is doubtful that there are any other plaques in San Francisco dedicated to a person who grew up 2,696 miles away in tiny Smyrna, South Carolina.

But what White's family heard in July at the ceremony was few people cared more about that great city.

Among crusaders, White carried a shield. She wielded a sword.

People have a name for a place to fight for. It's called home.

The SS death index is recorded under surname White. Local obituaries are recorded under surname White and White-Cantino. 
Family links: 
  Lorenzo Marian Cantino (1931 - 2000)*
*Calculated relationship
Italian Cemetery
San Mateo County
California, USA
Plot: 168B
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Retaggio
Record added: Nov 15, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 44351904
Betty Mae <i>White</i> Cantino
Added by: SFLondon
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