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Dr. Betty Jean McKnight of Trumansburg died January 6, 2020 at home surrounded by neighbors and friends.

Betty was an amazing, self-made woman. Raised in poor circumstances, sometimes homeless as a child, Betty earned her PhD in part because of a high school science teacher who inspired and believed in her.

She taught grade school while working on her advanced degrees, often camping out with her friends in cabins during the summer while they took graduate courses at Cornell. She was a Professor of Education at SUNY New Paltz at times serving as head of the Department of Education, and was named New York Professor of the Year. She co-authored a series of elementary science school textbooks for many years and was a favorite lecturer at science education conventions. During the Cold War, Betty traveled to Russia on an education exchange.

A lifelong naturalist and scientist, she was “green” long before it became the thing to do. Betty made many friends and went on many camping trips with the Sierra Club. She was instrumental in the startup of the Cayuga Nature Center and served on its board of directors.

Betty leaves her brother Goebel “Butch” Vaughn and his wife Mary Sandra; nephews Gary and Tom Dushatinski, Richard and John Vaughn; nieces Laura Vaughn Fruci and Jane Vaughn Dale and their families; as well as many good friends and her loyal Westie Terrier McDuff (Duffy) to mourn her loss. She was preceded in death by her lifelong friend and travel companion, Dr. Jean Smith in 2010.

Our family is so very grateful to all the friends and neighbors who took such good care of Betty.

A Celebration of her Life will take place at 11:00am on February 8, 2020 at the Trumansburg Methodist Church, 80 East Main Street, Trumansburg with a reception to follow. Prayers of committal will be held privately in Grove Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, Betty would want you to plant a tree in her memory or send a donation to the Ulysses Philomathic Library, 74 East Main Street, Trumansburg, NY 14886 or the Trumansburg United Methodist Church, PO Box 628, Trumansburg, NY 14886 or the Tompkins Co. SPCA, 1640 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.