Tom Vince shares his memories of Betty Royan
with Cathy Eaton
Betty Royon (1913-2001) was born in Cleveland to a family that was listed in the Cleveland Blue Book. Her father, Joseph Royon, was an attorney and a partner in one of the prominent law firms of the city. She went to Hathaway Brown School and was a member of the class of 1931. One of her classmates was Betty Eaton (Butterfield), daughter of Cyrus Eaton. She went on to earn a bachelor's in nuclear physics at Smith College in Massachusetts in 1935, and a master's from Smith in the same subject in 1936.
Betty had always planned a career in business, but realized that in the 1930's it would be a difficult goal to reach. Her childhood friend's father, Cleveland industrialist Cyrus Eaton in 1937, gave her the opportunity that expanded beyond what she had ever anticipated. She was never a secretary to Cyrus Eaton, a common error that people made all during her long career, and one that Betty learned to correct gently. She served as Eaton's Vice President of Deep Cove Farm in Blandford, Nova Scotia and at Eaton's home farm, Acadia Farms at Northfield, Ohio. She was also Eaton's trusted staff assistant and an officer of the Chessie Railroad system (Chesapeake & Ohio of which Eaton was CEO). Most notably, starting in 1955, Betty Royon became the chairman of Eaton's Pugwash Conferences in Nova Scotia which brought together scientists from various countries to discuss disarmament and world peace. In that role she became known for her involvement in international relations, and met Nikita Khruschev, among others. She was also active in the Shorthorn Association of which she was newsletter editor and secretary for the Ohio Shorthorn Association. When her prize shorthorn bull became the grand champion, she toured the country with him, stopping at the Eisenhower Gettysburg Farm to meet President Eisenhower (a well-known photo documents this occasion). Betty Royon actually had a number of secretaries to assist her, a practice that continued well into her retirement years in Hudson.
Although she retired around 1975, Betty Royon had purchased the charming Max Montgomery designed house at 290 North Main Street, Hudson, some years before. She became very active in community life which her business career had prevented her from joining. She was added to the Board of the Hudson Heritage Association (my recollection is that she came in as assistant treasurer to Roy Townhill, the HHA treasurer), and took on increasingly responsible positions, becoming President of HHA 1977-1979, and after serving two years, picked up the editorship of the HHA monthly newsletter and did that job for the next ten or more years. She was an active promoter of the Hudson Green Plan which was passed by voters in both village and township in 1976. When Bill Greer left town and the Presidency of HHA, Betty stepped in and served the final year (1980-81) of his two-year term.
During the 1980's Betty Royon also was elected to serve on the Board of the Hudson Library and Historical Society. She became President of the Board of Trustees in the mid-1980's and served a twoyear term during which the library celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1985. She worked with artist Gretchen Bierbaum on the image of the old Hudson Library that appeared on the cover of the telephone book and was reproduced in postcards. Betty was a strong proponent of automation in the library and helped Library Director Tom Vince make Hudson the first public library in Summit County to go on line in 1986 with CLEVNET, the system that the library uses even today.
Betty Royon was a close friend of Ohio writer Grace Goulder lzant who had lived in Hudson for decades and wrote articles and books about her home state. When Grace decided to trace the pioneer families who had settled Hudson in the early 19th century, she asked Betty and Hudson Library Director Tom Vince to accompany her to New England to do research. In the summer. of 1975 Grace, Betty, and Tom journeyed to Connecticut with Tom Vince driving Betty Rayon's large Mercury there and back. The research conducted on that trip resulted in Grace Goulder lzant's book, Hudson's Heritage, published by Kent State University Press in 1985. After the death of Mrs. lzant in 1984, Betty Royon wrote a long article about her in the local paper.
Betty Royon always claimed that she was working on a biography of Cyrus Eaton, her employer and close busine-ss associate of almost forty years. Betty is the one who could have told a unique story about Mr. Eaton (which she always called him). She did write a profile of him for the Western Reserve Historical Society bulletin in 1979, about the time that Eaton's papers were given to that institution. Betty Royon's own papers are at the University of Akron, although some of her fugitive papers have ended up in the Archives at Western Reserve Academy, a school that Betty admired and supported financially for many years. There are undoubtedly other Royon papers that are in the hands of her nieces and other family members who inherited her property following Betty's death in early 2001. She was 87 years old. Betty Rayon's remains were laid to rest in Hudson's Markillie Cemetery close to those of her sister, Margaret Wilcox, who shared the home on North Main Street until her own death, and nephew Armand Wilcox, who was an officer killed in Vietnam in 1968. The Royon and Wilcox graves are near the flagpole. Written by Tom Vince, Archivist and Historian, Western Reserve Academy, Hudson, Ohio. January 7, 2016.