Betty S. Lorenzi, 95, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, friend and long time resident of Lake Geneva, passed away after a brief illness on March 2, 2023, at her son’s home in North Carolina.
Betty was born on May 23, 1927, to the late Garvin and Matilda (Jennings) Shields in Brooklyn, New York. She was also preceded in death by her sisters, Lucille O’Connor and Estelle Gibson and her husband of over sixty-five years, Henri Lorenzi.
Betty attended the Fox Meadow School and Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York. During her days at Scarsdale High School, Betty discovered that she had a talent and passion for swimming. This lead to her becoming a competitive swimmer with a fierce determination to succeed. Each day after school she would catch the train in to New York City to practice at the New York Athletic Club. She competed throughout her high school years and qualified for AAU Nationals where she became a champion backstroker. Eventually she tried out for the 1948 Olympic Games but failed to qualify. After that, her swimming career took a bit of a turn when she joined Elliott Murphy’s Aquashow in Flushing Meadow, New York. When the season ended, she continued to swim in water ballet shows in the Dominican Republic. During her time performing at the Embajador Hotel she met her future husband, Henri Lorenzi, whom she wed on October 29, 1956 on the island.
Henri’s career in the hotel business had the couple and their family moving to many exciting and exotic destinations over the course of the next several decades. These included Mexico, Texas, Missouri, Grand Bahama Island, Puerto Rico, California, Monaco and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Betty’s love of swimming took another turn when she started to teach swimming and began coaching her own synchronized swimming clubs in many of these locations.
Later in life Betty returned to competitive swimming with United States Masters Swimming as a member of Florida Aquatic Combined Team and another chapter in her swimming career was started. In this chapter Betty surpassed all of her prior accomplishments by continually setting and breaking US national records in back stroke and freestyle in her age categories. She competed in over 450 races during her career spanning her early 70’s to 90’s.
She set world records and competed in Italy and New Zealand in FINA World Masters Swimming Championships. She still holds one world record for her 200 meter back stroke set in 2017 and is listed in many other backstroke categories in the top ten all time fastest world times.
She was happiest when she was in a swimming pool.
Besides a lifelong relationship with swimming, Betty also worked at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club where she was Social Director for several years. Later, when the resort transitioned to new ownership, she continued to work in other capacities at the resort for twenty years .
Betty always loved to be surrounded by family and friends. She was known for fabulous family gatherings and dinners at her house, and caring for her grandchildren and grandnieces. She welcomed many friends into her lovely, spacious home where there was much laughter, warmth and fun. Her kitchen was truly the heart of her home and any time a celebration or gathering was in order it always seemed to land at her house. Many fabulous memories had their origins in that kitchen. It was truly a life well lived.
Betty is survived by three children: Betty “Betsy” B. Bruggner (Robert), Charles B. Lorenzi (Jill), and Garvin “Guy” V. Lorenzi. Four grandchildren also survive Betty: Robert V. Bruggner, Jr., Phillip A. Bruggner, Henri A. Lorenzi , and Elizabeth M. Lorenzi. Nieces and nephews include Constance Herrick (Wayne), Peter O’Connor, Judy Luther, Jan Beardsley (Jeff) and Lee Delano (Mike). Grandnieces include Alyssa Priest (Brian) and Christa Herrick.
Services for Betty will be held on Monday, March 13 at 5:00 pm in the main chapel of Derrick Funeral Home. Visitation will be held on Monday, March 13 from the hours of 2:00 pm till 5:00 pm.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Lake Geneva YMCA, Lake Geneva Wisconsin where she swam many miles. A link has been provided below.
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Derrick Funeral Home of Lake Geneva is more than honored to be assisting Betty’s family.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Betty (Shields) Lorenzi, please visit our floral store.
Geneva Lakes Family YMCA
203 Wells St. Lake Geneva, WI 53147, Lake Geneva WI 53147