Supporter of the arts in Hawaii maintained sense of humor
Mary Elizabeth Sterling / 1916-2006
Ninety-year-old Mary Elizabeth Sterling often shuffled through clothing racks while shopping at Neiman Marcus, until finally sitting down to rest in her wheelchair.
Having various cancers kept her in a wheelchair for the latter part of her life, in which Sterling still found some humor.
At her 90th birthday party, she showed up with butterfly wings affixed to it, her favorite animal and the party's theme. About 100 friends came to celebrate with her.
Sterling, a supporter of the arts in Hawaii, died in her Honolulu home on July 18. She was 90 .
"She always had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to make others laugh," said daughter Susan Palmore, "but she loved a good party even more."
Sterling threw an annual Fourth of July party for her friends and many other parties for local Hawaii artists, like Dorothy Faison, who is well-known for landscape narratives.
Sterling was born in Pittsburgh in 1916 and graduated from Smith College in 1937, receiving her master's degree in social work at the University of Connecticut.
She worked for the Red Cross during World War II and became executive director of the International Service Agency in Bridgeport, Conn.
American Indian and contemporary art became her specialty as an avid art collector. Her North American Indian collection was showcased at a Honolulu Academy of Art exhibition, "Of Pride and Spirit."
She served on the Collections Committee as trustee of the Honolulu Academy of Arts for 26 years.
In 2004 and 2005, the Contemporary Museum and the Benton Museum at the University of Connecticut showcased the "Betty Sterling Collection."
A celebration of her life will be held at the Honolulu Academy of Arts at 5 p.m. Tuesday . Valet parking available at the Victoria Street entrance. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Honolulu Academy of Arts or the Contemporary Museum.