The Tight family, whose Denison roots span six generations, lost its matriarch with the passing of Elizabeth “Betty” Callander Tight on December 30, 2018, at the age of 92. Her death closely followed that of her husband, Dexter “Ted” Tight ’48, Denison Life Trustee and 2011 Alumni Citation recipient, who passed away on April 19, 2018.
Of everything Betty accomplished—her degree from Stanford University, her many civic and charitable commitments, her drawings and oil paintings, her service to her places of worship—nothing fulfilled her more than her role as wife and mother. While Ted acquired numerous professional accolades and board and other leadership positions, Betty was behind the scenes, making all of it possible. Says son David Tight ’79, “Dad would have been the first to admit that he could not have accomplished all that he did without her running the show.”
Betty and Ted grew up a few blocks apart in St. Francis Woods, San Francisco. They got to know each other better when they were teenagers at their summer homes in nearby Woodside. They dated after college and were married in 1951. They had four children, Dexter “Tim” ’74 (Jane), Kathryn Loken ’76 (Stephen), Steven (Chris), and David ’79 (Janet). Theirs was a close-knit family who took their work and play seriously—and preferably outdoors. Betty, Ted, and their children enjoyed hiking the hills of the Bay Area, backpacking in the Sierras, and fly-fishing on McKenzie River.
Fiercely loyal to her family and its traditions, Betty developed a strong affinity for her adopted college of Denison. She and Ted shared a love for education and a deep understanding of its importance, and were proud to support their children and later, their grandchildren, in pursuit of higher education. Both Denison and Stanford were recipients of the Tights’ generous philanthropy and volunteer service.
Betty’s devotion to her husband continued in their final years, as Ted grew ill and moved to the medical wing of their independent living facility. At least twice a day, Betty made the long trek from her apartment to Ted’s room to sit with him during meals and to lay out his clothes for the next day. Says son David, “She gave everything to support my dad in his final years. She was there like a rock until the very end.”
It was exhausting work, but very much in keeping with Betty’s generous spirit. “She would brighten up a room with her soul, her kindness, and her optimism,” notes David. “That’s the legacy she left—a gracious living that impacted all she touched.”
In addition to Betty’s four children, she leaves behind 10 grandchildren—many of whom carry on the Tight family Denison tradition: Dexter “Elliot” (Elizabeth), Andrew, Riley ’14, Peter, Connor, Madeleine, Delaney, Sophie ’23, Charlotte, and Griffin.