Elizabeth “Bet” Simpson Royster, 91, of Richmond, VA, passed peacefully from this earth with her family by her side on Monday, July 3, 2023.
She was born and raised in Front Royal, VA, and was the daughter of the late Samuel Carson Simpson and Frances Richey Simpson. She graduated as valedictorian from Warren County High School in 1950. It was in high school that she cultivated her lifelong love of sports.
Bet matriculated to Richmond, VA for college where she eventually made her home for more than seven decades. She earned a Bachelor’s from Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) and a Master’s Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She went on to become an Associate Professor in the School of Education at VCU, specifically teaching other aspiring students to be health and physical education teachers. At VCU, she was a pioneer in women’s athletics, blazing a trail that others have only come to recognize. She was the first and only woman who served as Director of Women’s Athletics at VCU. For her, it was the right thing at the right time ensuring that women had the same opportunities to play sports at the collegiate level. She accepted life’s challenges and took on countless roles with grace, courage, and wit, unsurpassed by many of her contemporaries.
Bet was a long-time resident of Ginter Park, effectively running all aspects of the swimming program at the Lewis Ginter Recreation Association. She was a devoted teacher, mentor, swim Mom, coach, and inspiration to all who came to know her. Always a gracious and welcoming hostess and Mother figure, all will miss her.
Left to cherish her memory is her husband of sixty-eight years, John Green Royster; sons, Michael, Geoffrey, and Mark (Kathleen) all of Richmond, VA; daughter, Terry (Shawn) of Louisville, KY; ten grandchildren, Brooke, Shana, Erin, Kara, Carson, Hollyn, Jared, Olivia, Luke, and Katherine; and her six great-grandchildren.
The family held a private service in her memory and the interment of her cremains will follow in Front Royal, VA later this year.
Those who were touched by her words, deeds, and/or wisdom, if they choose, may make a memorial donation to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.