Official Obituary of

Dr Elizabeth B Rawlins

February 3, 2024
Obituary Image

Dr Elizabeth Rawlins Obituary

Elizabeth (Miller) Rawlins was born on November 25, 1927 and died at the age of 96 on February 3, 2024. Elizabeth (Betty) passed away at her home in Oak Bluffs peacefully with her children, Paul (Teresa) and Pattie by her side. 

Betty was born to Archibald and  Nellie Miller. She was the second youngest of 5 children. Betty survived them all. Betty attended the Cambridge public schools and graduated from Cambridge High and Latin School in 1944. After high school, she attended Salem State Teachers College, where she earned her B.S. degree in education in 1950. Betty then became an Elementary School teacher, teaching in public and private schools around Massachusetts, in both urban and suburban communities. From 1953 to 1954, Betty taught at Narimasu Elementary School in Tokyo, Japan

Betty loved to share how the love of her life, Keith Rawlins, was waiting to marry her upon her return. Keith and Betty were married on August 27, 1954 and remained married for  50 years, until Keith’s passing on June 14, 2013. 

After earning her master’s degree in urban education from Simmons College in 1967, Betty left elementary school teaching and began working at Simmons. 

From 1979 to 1992, Betty served as the associate dean of the Human Services Program; she became a professor of education and the same year she received her Ed.D. degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. For ten years, she  served as chairperson of the Salem State College board of trustees; she also served as a board member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and a member of the Simmons College Corporation. Betty also served as president of the Massachusetts Association of Mental Health; between 1982 and 1988 and she served on the Education Commission. 

During her long career at Simmons, Betty made a significant impact in quite a few capacities ! She often addressed racially sensitive issues and Betty had a special place in her heart mentoring students of color who were the minority at Simmons. Clearly it was special as many of them still regularly called and visited with their beloved “Dean Rawlins” after all these years and some are also in attendance here today to celebrate her! Betty made quite the name for herself in Education which she never boasted about. She was a very private person but Keith never let a major accomplishment pass by without a recognition celebration! Some of these accomplishments are as follows: the establishment of the Elizabeth B. Rawlins Scholarship Fund at Simmons, and the Salem State College Elizabeth Rawlins Oratorical Contest are testaments to her leadership and contributions to higher education in Massachusetts, and the respect she earned in the process. And the Elizabeth B. Rawlins '67GS Endowed Scholarship

After her retirement in 1992, Betty and Keith retired full time to their special place, Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard where they had summered since 1965. Betty wasn’t finished serving though ! Here are a few more places she lent her expertise. She served on a few boards on the Vineyard and was the advisory council to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and as the vice president of the Martha’s Vineyard branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

As well as many years on the board for Havenside Housing Corporation in Vineyard Haven. Betty was elated to be part of the Cambridge Black Trailblazers, the history makers and she can be seen on video in Washington DC at the African American museum. 

Betty had a great love for her family and friends and is survived by her son, Paul H. Rawlins (wife Teresa), daughter, Pattie E. Rawlins, two grandchildren, Sharisse Scott-Rawlins and Keith Scott-Rawlins, and a host of other relatives and friends. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Simmons University 300 Fenway Boston, Ma 02115 towards the Elizabeth B. Rawlins '67GS Endowed Scholarships for minority students. Donations could also be made in her name to Hospice and Palliative Care of Martha’s Vineyard 79 Beach Rd Suite 28 PO Box 1748 Vineyard Haven, Ma. 02568

And Salem State University to the Elizabeth B Rawlins Oratory Award. 

The wake, arranged by Spears Funeral Home is to take place at 12 noon on Sunday February 25, 2024 and funeral at 1 pm also, at Simmons University. 

The service being held on Sunday when no burials take place means the family will be meeting Monday 2/26/24 at 11 am at Spears Funeral Home (124 Western Ave Cambridge ) to go to the burial site at Mt Auburn Cemetery. Family and close friends are invited to join. 

The family of Dr. Elizabeth B. Rawlins wishes to thank all of you for your outpouring of love, support and prayers. The Rawlins’ also want to extend their greatest gratitude to RN Jessica Walsh and staff at Hospice and Palliative Care Martha’s Vineyard. 

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February 25, 2024

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Simmons College Main Building
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115

Funeral Service
February 25, 2024

1:00 PM
Simmons College Main Building
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115


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