Elizabeth Elaine “Betty” Blake, a loving and devoted wife to Ralph, Jr., the mother of eleven children and grandmother to twenty-six, passed away this Monday, February 22, 2021, at the age of 94. Born Elizabeth Elaine Cavanaugh on May 3, 1926, in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, Betty moved to Phoenix in 1933 with her parents, Jack and Mary Cavanaugh, and her three sisters: Marjorie Ruth Cavanaugh, Eileen Marie Mason, Patricia Ann Joyce. Betty attended St. Mary’s High School (Class of 1944) where she met the love of her life, Ralph James Blake, Jr. On December 31, 1945, Betty married Ralph and they began to create their life and legacy.
Betty was the heart and soul of her large Irish Catholic family and her warm, generous and welcoming nature is an enduring example of her innate Grace. She was a homemaker extraordinaire. Her home was always in a state of frenetic activity. Betty was either shopping, cooking, baking, laundering, cleaning, or child rearing, things she seemed to manage seamlessly. She was the consummate orchestrator, chauffeuring kids to an endless number of events and sporting events all across Phoenix. She attended all of her children’s grade school and high school competitions across the sporting spectrum, seemingly at the same time. Betty would make pre-competition food in the late afternoon and still have dinner ready for thirteen in the early evening with desserts that disappeared in an instant. Betty made her house a Home.
Betty and her family enjoyed many years at their Prescott cabin and spent two weeks every summer in Mission Beach, traditions that continue today. As her children grew, Betty found time to play tennis with the mother’s club at Brophy College Prep and golf with her husband and children. And she made time to read books and garden. She was a natural athlete and, when not playing sports, she watched the golf channel, Phoenix Suns or Diamondbacks.
Her husband Ralph was her best friend and their love for each other was not only a stabilizing force for them, but a wonderful example of how to weather life’s challenges with grace and humor. Mom was lovely in so many ways. She was content, resilient and strong, but gentle in spirit. And she was so much FUN! She would be the first one on the beach with a beer in her hand and enjoying the day. She had a remarkable ability to remain calm (ignore) the inevitable chaos that came from having so many children. Betty did not care who borrowed her car or who crashed it. She always provided a soft place for us to land for an hour or a month, no matter what stage we were in our lives.
Love. Children. Family. Home. Grace. We will miss you Mom. You are forever in our hearts.
She is survived by her eleven children: Ralph Blake (Denise), Phoenix, AZ; John Blake (Kristi), Spokane, WA; Patty Deeny (Ray), Colorado Springs, CO; Chris Surman (Phillip), Phoenix, AZ; Daniel Blake, Prescott, AZ; Peter Blake (Lynn), Phoenix, AZ; Kelly Blake (Piedad), Phoenix, AZ; Betsy Chadwick, San Diego, CA; Bob Blake (Larisa), Marlton, NJ; Lori Roediger (Andy), Phoenix, AZ; Mollie Van Stralen (Kris), Orinda, CA.
Twenty-six grandchildren: Michael Blake, Patrick Blake, Kelly Blake Rogers, Kerry Blake, Sullivan Blake, Patrick Deeny, Kate Deeny, Robert Surman, Scott Surman, Jamie Surman, Peter Surman, Kristin Surman, Lindy Blake, Tess Blake, Nuria Blake, Jack Blake, Mollie Chadwick, Blake Chadwick, Kalyn Blake, Ryan Blake, Elise Roediger, Mary Roediger, Jay Roediger, Lauren Van Stralen, Nicole Van Stralen, Owen Van Stralen; and twelve great grandchildren so far.
Services are being held at St. Mary’s Basilica on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. All are welcome to join the family in celebrating Betty’s life. Betty will be interred at St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona. Condolences may be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Ryan House.