Diaries through the Decades: Sympathetic Betty Kingsley warms hearts

There is an assumed rivalry between senior citizens and young adults as both groups believe they know best; one because they have lived it already, the other because they are living it now.

95-year-old Betty Kingsley extends a hand to the other side.

Kingsley knows what it means to be young. She graduated from Keuka College and became a teacher at Bloomfield Central School, near Canandaigua, N.Y. There, she taught students French and Latin, and when World War II called many teachers into service, she picked up world history and junior American history as well.

After Kingsley's fiancé returned home from the war in the Pacific, they married and had three children. As she spoke of their childhood, it was clear she understands young people. "Because teenagers are teenagers, we were all very busy," she said.

Both of Kingsley's daughters have achieved significant success in different areas of the country. Her son, who recently passed away, worked his way from a position in the U.S. Air Force to supervising planes transporting all staff under the president at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington D.C. Kingsley's pride in her children is obvious, as is the optimism she holds for all of today's youth.

Kingsley said she has seen a lot. She remembers the "funny little airplanes" of World War I, and when horses became a hobby instead of a viable means of transportation. Despite these memories, however she said she embraces the present, marveling at Kindles, computers and the Internet. "I have to give credit to the American ingenuity and brain," she said. "It's just amazing what the mind is capable of."

This embrace of the modern age is extended to students growing up in it. "I see every day young people who are absolutely great," she said. Contrary to the conception of enmity between old and young, Kingsley said she finds the youth around her to be energetic and joyful, ready to face the day's challenges directly.

Today, Kingsley lives at Morgan Estates Assisted Living Facility in Geneseo. She said she is truly happy - the staff and other residents encourage her independence and have made the transition very easy for her. She said she enjoys sitting on the College Green with "a bottle of wine and a chunk of cheese" when the philharmonic plays, and as she sees the youth around her, she said she only hopes her generation has given us a good start.

"You are the future," she says, "And from what I see, young people are going to make a great future."