Elizabeth Claire Mortimer


Elizabeth Claire Mortimer died Nov. 9 in Port St. Joe, Florida, after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. She had been a Port St. Joe resident since 2000.
Born Nov. 26, 1950, in Englewood, NJ to Leo Joseph and Virginia Willis Mortimer, Beth lived in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania before moving to High Point, NC in 1960. After graduating from High Point Central High School in 1968, she attended Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, graduating in 1973 with degrees in political science and social work.
After graduation, Beth worked in social work and community organizing before entering her primary career field of disaster assistance services in 1977. Her first assignment was assisting victims of flooding in Kentucky. Over the years, she went to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, ice storms and earthquakes across the United States and U.S. territories in the Caribbean and south Pacific. She remained employed in disaster services until a few weeks before her death.
A life highlight was being selected in 1983 for a Paul Harris Fellowship for International Understanding. Funded by the International Rotary Club, the fellowship sponsored her study at Oxford Polytechnic in England on issues related to post-disaster housing and development. It was followed by field research in Jamaica on Caribbean disaster issues. Beth credited the experience for strengthening her understanding of the worldwide needs of people.
From 1985-1989, she worked for the American Red Cross as the North Carolina state disaster coordinator. In 1987, she represented the Red Cross in a National Hurricane Conference debate on disaster evacuation in Houston, TX. In the first weeks following Sept. 11, 2001, Beth was dispatched to assist New York area residents who suffered losses in the bombing attacks. She drove down Broadway as part of the first group of official vehicles going to assist impacted families who lost homes and loved ones.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Beth coordinated assistance efforts in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through contractor PB Disaster Services of Winchester, VA. Her last position with PB was a disaster assistance trainer. Her grateful colleagues and friends at PB Services established the annual "Beth Mortimer 'Extra Mile' Award" to honor the disaster worker who "best embodies the attributes exhibited by Elizabeth Claire Mortimer throughout her career."
Beth was grateful for being in a loving family and valued being raised during tumultuous but historic times in the South.
She is preceded in death by her parents and is survived by two brothers, Lee Mortimer (and wife Karen) of Durham, NC and Allen Mortimer (and wife Suzanne) of Chattanooga, TN; two sisters, Margaret Mortimer of Atlanta, GA and Judy Meyler (and husband John) of Greensboro, NC; four nephews, Jason Mortimer, Scott Meyler, Samuel Mortimer and Eric Meyler; three nieces, Allyson Meyler, Melissa Mortimer and Whitney Mortimer; two uncles, Thomas Mortimer and Samuel Medlock; and an aunt, Marion Shealy.
A memorial service will be held Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. at St Joseph's Catholic Church, 202 20th street in Port St. Joe, FL. A second memorial service and final burial will be held Friday Nov. 23 at the Fellowship Presbyterian Church, 2005 New Garden Road, Greensboro, North Carolina 27410.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Virginia W. and Elizabeth C. Mortimer Endowed Scholarship, c/o Winthrop University Foundation, 638 Oakland Ave., Rock Hill, SC 29733.
Local Services provided by Comforter Funeral Home.
Published in The Star from Nov. 15 to Nov. 22, 2007
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