Betty Newman died at her home in Provincetown on August 6, 2021. She was 89 years old. Her death was confirmed by her longtime partner and wife Phoebe Otis, who did not provide a reason.
Born Minerva Betty Newman on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, she moved to Manhattan after high school, where she held a number of secretarial positions before taking up a position with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
She bought a brownstone house in Brooklyn, which gave her a room to bring home some of the grooming dogs, cats and birds she encountered at work. On the first floor there was a panoramic window where the dogs sat, waiting for her to return home. Animals remained important to her throughout her life.
During those years, Betty began to spend the summer in Provincetown. She met Phyllis Schlossberg, who suggested that she move to Provincetown. They worked together in the restaurant and entertainment business, and in the late 1970s bought the Post Office Café, which Betty called a “eat and beat” place. Everything changed when the cabaret was opened upstairs.
They then bought the Pilgrim House Hotel, and between the two venues, they introduced a host of talented performers to Provincetown’s summer crowds. Schlosberg passed away on April 21 this year.
By the 1990s, Betty and Phoebe Otis, her 39-year-old partner who sometimes worked as a singing bartender, decided to leave the entertainment business and get real estate licenses. They followed this up by purchasing Pied Piper Real Estate.
Although they did some sales, they specialized in weekly summer rentals. Phoebe was the office manager and Betty worked with clients. She had a talent for recruiting tenants and, in particular, she became a favorite of gays, many of whom worked only with her. Landlords also loved her for her organized work style. At the time of the sale of the business, they had over 300 ads.
Betty and Phoebe fell in love with Maui and decided to move there. They brought five dogs and three cats with them and planned to buy Hamburger Mary’s, one of a chain of gay bars and a home. The bar deal fell through and they couldn’t find a home. When they returned, it was clear, ”Phoebe said,“ that the animals handled disappointment better than their people.
Betty retired in 2014. After years of mistrust that same-sex marriage would remain legal, he and Phoebe got married in 2016.
In addition to Phoebe, Betty has a niece, Annette Kramer from Long Island, New York.
Instead of flowers, Betty asked for donations to be donated to Help Our Women at 34 Conwell St., Provincetown 02657.
To leave a memory or a message of condolences, visit gatelyfuneralservice.com.