Obituary for Dr. Elizabeth Pratt Berry Long

Memorial for Dr. Elizabeth Pratt Berry Long, M.D.

River Oaks mourns the passing of long-time friend and board member Dr. Betsy Long

River Oaks mourns the passing of long-time friend and board member Dr. Betsy Long

“Stir the world with your skills, shake the world with your talents, move the world with your brilliance, change the world with your genius.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

Dr. Elizabeth Pratt Berry Long, M.D. was known at River Oaks just as Betsy.  She was well known at our art center to be capable of all of those quoted skills. She most certainly stirred, shook, moved and changed our creative course as a member, patron, artist and board member for over fourteen years. Betsy joined the Board of Directors at River Oaks in 2006 shortly after moving to Alexandria, her husband David’s hometown. Together she and David had three beautiful children, Kate, Jack and Trigg. From day one, our arts center gained a dedicated friend of the arts, an advocate for outreach projects, a helping hand for fundraisers, and so much more. Colorful and fierce - she was tenacious with any task at hand and never ceased to amaze with her maverick imagination. 

“On her first visit, Betsy looked around our ceramics lab with complete amazement. Her admiration of the arts was apparent, her wonder for River Oaks was instant.  That day, I witnessed those creative wheels turning in that brilliant mind,” recalls Executive Director Rachael Dauzat. “She joined our team through her first introduction to our little creative corner and her commitment as a board member never wavered. Having been a Van Gogh Star Artist on MANY occasions, I am aware of how her husband and children witnessed and inspired her artistic genius and collaborations with mentor artists at River Oaks.” 

“Divergent thinking, that’s Betsy!  This was her cognitive fashion - always. I never failed to absorb new knowledge from our conversations - she had a way of enlightening and invigorating people with ideas no one else dared to dream,” Dauzat continues. “She made every one of those ideas reach fruition - from metal sculptures, to fireplace screens a la Marrakesh vibes, to Van Gogh chairs, elaborate paintings, etchings, ceramics … there wasn’t a media she didn’t love or appreciate. And oh how she admired all of the artists! She worked with so many artists over the years - through commissions and unique collaborations.  These masterpieces were exceptional, not only because of the artistry, of course, but you also had Betsy’s personal touch, her insight, her vision!”

Dr. Elizabeth Long was a board-certified dermatologist and a third-generation physician. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Honors College at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. In 2001, she graduated from the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. Her honors there included Alpha Omega Alpha, the Henry Jolly Award for Dermatology, and the Russell L. Holman Award for Pathology. After an internship in Internal Medicine at the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans (Charity and University Hospitals), she completed a three-year degree at the LSU Department of Dermatology in New Orleans. She was the owner of Red River Dermatology, where she was admired by co-workers and patients alike.

It is impossible for us to mourn her passing without reflecting upon the legacy and lasting impression she leaves on all of us here. To honor that very legacy and the commitment she had for the arts, River Oaks will establish the Dr. Betsy Long Memorial Fund, through donations from her memorial and additionally through a fund established by Noelle & Michael Crowell in her name.

“What a remarkable human being and an exceptionally brilliant creative force - a champion of our arts center, its artists and a gift to this world,” said Dauzat. “Her work and her presence were exemplary of greatness. She will forever be admired and adored by our River Oaks family.”

The Dr. Betsy Long Memorial Fund will be utilized for two main efforts - scholarships for River Oaks Summer Art Studio Program and also to underwrite our ART for ALL Outreach Programming for Students w/ Learning Modalities, Seniors, CASA and Hope House, programs which impact over three hundred students each year. These initiatives are so overwhelmingly rewarding and we continue to expand upon them annually. Betsy would have loved to see these programs continue to grow - she loved both introducing others to art and seeing people’s confidence blossom.

River Oaks was scheduled to host its 6th Annual Cup Call Exhibition opening reception in April, naming the current ceramics lab in her honor - The Dr. Betsy Long Ceramics Classroom and designating an award that bears her name. To mark the occasion, one artist will be chosen to receive the inaugural Betsy Long Creative Cup Award. This selection will be made by her close network of friends, who will pick out the winning cup each year.

Additionally, this year’s Van Gogh Gala, scheduled for October 17, 2020 will be dedicated to her memory. Betsy was essential in aiding with each year's evolving creative theme for this annual fundraising event.

Betsy, there is so much we will miss but there is so much you have left behind for us to cherish - your beautiful spirit will reign supreme at River Oaks, forever.  ∞




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