Travel played a pivotal role in Betty Begg’s relationship with her late husband Elwood, who died in a terrible crash in South Carolina last month.
Elwood was working as a machinist in Cobourg, Ont., a job he held for 35 years, when he met Betty at a singles’ dance in Belleville, Ont. Betty, a native of Charlottetown, was working as a nurse in Kingston at the time.
The pair began seeing each other. To accomplish this, Elwood would make the 90-minute drive from Cobourg to Kingston along Hwy. 401 so he could spend time with Betty on weekends.
The couple married. Elwood moved in with Betty but continued to work in Cobourg while Betty carried on working as a nurse in Kingston. Elwood drove for one and a half hours each day to work and back home to be with his wife.
After Elwood and Betty had both retired, they moved to P.E.I. in 2002, settling into a home in Brackley Beach.
The couple welcomed Mack Barrett to live with them for seven years until he died. They helped Barrett successfully battle his alcohol addiction.
Helping others, notes Betty, was simply in Elwood’s DNA.
“He was not selfish,’’ she said. “He would give you the shirt off his back.’’
Betty describes her late husband as a true gentleman and a good Christian man. The couple both volunteered their time with The Salvation Army.
Elwood had many joys in life. Country music, eating at Maid Marion’s in Charlottetown, cheering on his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs (“You didn’t talk to him when they were on,’’ noted Betty), the Toronto Blue Jays and bowling would all be high on his list.
Swapping a month or so of winter in P.E.I. for the much warmer climate in Florida was also a long running pleasure for Elwood and Betty.
“Elwood loved it there,’’ said Betty.
On Feb. 26, the pair was well on their way to their annual southerly destination with their faithful companion Dewey, a six-year-old Shih Tzu dog, in tow.
After driving for roughly 10 hours, Elwood pulled into a hotel in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
He whipped up a couple turkey wraps for Betty. He felt like having a hamburger so he set out to cross four lanes of highway to grab one from Burger King.
He didn’t make it. A truck slammed into Elwood. He was rushed to hospital. An employee leaving work after her shift at Burger King drove Betty to the hospital.
Betty recalls being in shock.
“I kept asking to see my husband,’’ she said.
Soon Betty feared the worse. She grew quite certain she had lost her husband. A state trooper approached her and confirmed just that.
Back home in Brackley Beach this week, surrounded by photos and many other reminders of Elwood, Betty is struggling with the senseless manner in which her husband’s life ended.
Betty, 66, stresses that Elwood was a healthy 77-year-old man. She believed the pair were still looking at enjoying many good years of life together.
Elwood is survived by six children, four stepchildren, 18 grandchildren and one sister.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on March 30 at The Salvation Army Chapel in Charlottetown. Memorial contributions may be made to The Salvation Army or the P.E.I. Speech and Hearing Association.