Devoted mother Betty G. Spera dies at 91

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In her long life, Betty G. Spera was known as a hard worker whose main mission was looking after her family.

"She was a strong-willed woman who stuck to her convictions but she was a lovable person who cared deeply for her four daughters," said John G. Marks, Spera's son-in-law and executive director of Nassau County's Traffic and Parking Violations Agency.

Spera, 91, died Wednesday at an assisted-living facility in Cape Cod, Mass.

Spera lived for a time in Freeport in the 1940s before moving to upstate Hyde Park, where she raised her family with her husband of 62 years, Joseph, who died in 2007.

She was born Jan. 29, 1922, to Byron Graefenecker and Alethea O'Brian in Richmond Hills, Queens. Her family soon relocated to the North Bronx, where she grew up. She graduated from Evander Childs High School in the Bronx in 1939.

She attended Pace University, then known as Pace Institute, for court reporting until the school was disbanded because of the war. She then joined the Farrand Optical Co. in the Bronx. The company built periscopic bombsights for Navy submarines during World War II.

It was there that she met her future husband in 1943. The couple wed when the war ended. Afterward she worked as an administrative assistant for various schools in a Dutchess County school district as well as Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie.

Her true passion lay in raising her daughters. One, Catherine, became ill at the age of 2 with severe brain trauma and has special needs.

"She dedicated her life to Cathy and making sure she got the right treatment," said her daughter Patricia Marks of Hicksville. "It is because of her that she can read and write and is high-functioning."

In her spare time, Spera was a golfer and a member of various groups at the Dennis Pines/Dennis Highlands Golf Courses in East Dennis, Mass. She also enjoyed playing bridge and poker and was a member of a ladies poker group for 23 years.

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Along with Patricia Marks and Catherine Spera, who lives in Marstons Mills, Mass., Betty Spera is survived by daughters Mary Jessup of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and Anne Revman of San Diego, as well as five grandchildren and one great-grandson.

A Mass will be said for her Friday at Our of Lady of The Cape Catholic Church in Brewster, Mass. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers donations be sent to We Care, Nassau County Bar Association, 15th and West Streets, Mineola, NY 11501.

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