Elizabeth (Betsy) Dale Stark

Elizabeth (Betsy) Dale Stark was born on November 30, 1948 in San Antonio, Texas to Lincoln Stark and Edna Stark (nee King). She had three siblings: her brother John King Stark, and sisters Karla Stark and Joy Lokey. She is survived by her husband Kevin Kayes and two daughters Ana Kayes and Sarah Henderson.

Betsy attended Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, TX and began her college education at Southern Methodist University later moving to Chicago to study fashion for a year. She then completed her studies at the University of Texas in Austin where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in History. Following graduation, she moved to Germany where her sister, Karla, was a teacher for the Department of Defense school system. Betsy’s first job was working in a small motorcycle factory where she translated documents from German to English for U.S. customers. She later became a teacher, working with American soldiers studying to earn their high school diplomas.

While in Germany Betsy became fluent in German and earned a master’s degree in education from Boston University. She became a fearless traveler and, alongside her sisters, visited countries throughout Europe.

When she returned from Europe, Betsy settled in the Washington, D.C. area where her younger sister, Joy, was a chef and caterer. Betsy worked with the late Congressman Adam Benjamin, Jr., a Democrat who represented the First District in Indiana. At first the office receptionist, she was soon was promoted to legislative director and then chief of staff. When she left Capitol Hill she worked as a consultant in D.C. representing various state governments on transportation issues including Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada. She also worked to authorize and fund major infrastructure projects in Chicago and Denver. Betsy met her husband, Kevin Kayes, on Capitol Hill and they married in 1986. They recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.

Her love of travel would continue through the rest of her life. She took her family on adventures around the world, many of them inspired by her love of history, which she shared with her husband and passed on to her daughters. She planned every family trip that encompassed road trips through Italy including Pompeii, the Roman Forum, and gondola rides in Venice. In England they visited family, then followed the Tour de France through the Alps. She organized three family reunions for thirty members of the Greek side of the family to tour Greece and meet their Greek relatives.

Betsy was an avid lover of art and enjoyed exploring museums and galleries around the world including those at home in Washington, D.C., the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum of London, and the new museum at the Acropolis in Athens. She was a talented painter of watercolors and took classes with her good friend Barbra Brown. She painted Christmas cards each year to send to family and friends.

Betsy was a voracious reader and enjoyed countless biographies and books about American and European history. She created intricate needlepoints and learned how to sew quilts with her friend Mia O’Connell. She was a wordsmith who never missed the daily crossword puzzle in The Washington Post.

Betsy loved the Washington Nationals and was a season ticketholder.

Her greatest joy was in helping her daughters grow up into strong, independent, articulate, kind, and thoughtful young women. Both girls have traveled and worked around the world and are pursuing their own separate paths in life. Sara, 30, manages marketing and advertising for a tech startup company in San Francisco and is married to James Henderson. Anna, 32, recently moved to San Diego and is pursuing a career in documentary film. Both girls have all the best qualities of their mother. And let’s not forget her favorite Labrador, Nala, who turned 12 this year and was a constant companion to Betsy.

In her honor, her family is creating a scholarship fund to help young women leaders from Virginia pursue their education and careers in the arts, political science, and history. If you would like to honor Betsy in some way we encourage you to contribute to this fund, the details of which will be forthcoming.

A memorial service will be held for Betsy to celebrate her life on Friday, October 8, 2021 at 11am at Fort CF Smith Park, 2411 N. 24th Street, Arlington, Virginia, 22207.

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