A true daughter of Fernandina, Elizabeth “Betty” Waas Davis-Feener, 91, passed away at Quality Health of Fernandina Beach on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, with her loving family by her side.
Her father, Glyndon Heidt Waas, was a third-generation Fernandinian, son of Dr. W.T. Waas and Dozier Heidt Waas. Her mother was Willette Victoria (Haile) Waas of Farmington, Mo. She grew up in the “little house” at 315 S. Seventh St., with her Waas grandparents next door in the “big house.” Her Haile grandparents lived just a block north in the “Fairbanks Folly.”
As a child, she experienced the Great Depression. As a teenager, she volunteered to be a Civil Defense airplane spotter when the United States entered World War II.
Betty was valedictorian of the Fernandina High School Class of 1943. She first attended Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., studying fashion design and sculpture. She briefly attended Louisiana State University, but came home to find work. She was soon awarded an “emergency teaching certificate,” landing a job teaching sixth grade despite not quite having finished her degree.
Betty married Ernest P. Davis Jr., a war veteran and forester at Rayonier, in 1947.
Eventually they built a house on North Wolff Street, which Betty designed herself. Betty resumed her college studies at Jacksonville University, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1964.
Betty then turned her attention back to art, commuting to Jacksonville for classes. She produced many portraits for friends, family and neighbors in the community, plus still-life and landscape paintings, becoming an important member of a growing community of artists and intellectuals on Amelia Island.
After a divorce, Betty graduated with a master’s degree in education in 1972 from the University of Florida, then worked as a guidance counselor and school psychologist in Nassau and Duval counties for several years. She also practiced art therapy, dabbled in real estate, and continued to paint, go on religious retreats and pray.
In 1978, Betty married George Feener of Jacksonville. They enjoyed going to arts festivals, ballroom dancing, attending the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S.C., and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and traveling.
While pain increasingly limited her activities, Betty continued to be involved with close friends, family and St. Michael Catholic Church. She entered Quality Health in 2013, where her loving husband cared for her daily.
Betty was predeceased by her parents and by her brother, Glyndon H. Waas Jr.
She is survived by her husband, George; children, Dr. Diane (Barbara) Davis of Olympia, Wash. and Apache Junction, Ariz., Father Ernie (Valerie) Davis of Lee’s Summit, Mo., Clyde (April) Davis of Fernandina, and Peg (Paula) Davis of Fernandina; brother Bill (Lane) Waas of Asheville, North Carolina and five grandchildren, Jane-Margaret (Viet) Doan, Ernest P. “Chet” Davis IV, Ian Davis, Kane “Bud” (Becca) Davis and Mandy Davis.
A Mass will be held Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 10 a.m. at St. Michael Catholic Church, with Father Msgr. Vincent Haut as celebrant. A reception will follow at the church.
A private interment will follow at Bosque Bello Cemetery. Memorials may be made to St. Michael Catholic Church or to a charity of your choice.