Bettine Kinney Wallin

May 14, 1936 - June 5, 2010
contradance organizer

Bettine_Wallin.jpgBettine Kinney Wallin passes away at 74; educator, activist, philanthropist and Renaissance Pleasure Faire pioneer, her public-spirited life enriched Santa Barbara and all who knew her.

Singer, dancer, patron of the arts, beloved wife, mother, friend and teacher Bettine Wallin passed away June 5, 2010, after a long and valiant battle against breast cancer.

She was born Bettine Celia Kinney on May 14, 1936, in Beijing (then Peking) China, the daughter of Ray and Beth Kinney, American missionaries who had come to China to teach English at the mission school. Ray Kinney was a Congregational minister whose activities included saving businesses owned by Japanese-Americans interned following Pearl Harbor, and early work in the development of Dianetics as a counseling technique.

From the beginning, music was food for her soul. Raised mainly in Los Angeles, at 17, Bettine gave up a budding career as a concert pianist, preferring to share her musical gifts as a teacher. While still in high school, she taught classes in ear training and music theory to senior citizens and also taught the high school harmony class. After graduation from Manual Arts High School in 1954, she earned an accreditation as a piano teacher from the St. Louis Institute of Music.

She pursued a Liberal Arts music major at Pomona College, Claremont, California for 2 years, then transferred to the Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City, graduating with her B.A. in Music Education in 1958.

After graduation, Bettine married her high school sweetheart, poet and radio broadcaster David Ossman. Alizon, their first child, was born in 1959.One of Bettine's early jobs in NYC was as an assistant to noted radio newscaster, Westbrook van Voorhees. The couple returned to Los Angeles with their daughter and, in 1961, their son Devin was born. In that year she joined the small staff of a Laurel Canyon neighborhood nursery school cooperative.

In 1963, the family moved to Laurel Canyon, then growing into a vibrant artists' community. Shortly after, a neighbor and teacher Phyllis Patterson brought Bettine in to help with the first Renaissance Pleasure Faire, a weekend fundraiser for local radio station KPFK. During the next five seasons, Bettine was the Faire's Entertainment Coordinator, Stage Manager and Talent Recruiter. She also helped design the grand pageants and the many stage and "spontaneous" performances, helping the Faire become a cultural touchstone.

Bettine earned her Elementary School California Teaching Credential at Long Beach State College and UCLA in February of 1966. David and Bettine separated in 1967.

When Bettine was 30 she met her life partner, painter and sculptor Lawrence Wallin. They married in October of 1968. Until her untimely passing, she was his muse and one of his favorite models.

Her special heart for children with learning, emotional and developmental problems and her extraordinary teaching abilities came together when, from 1968 through 1980, she was a Master Teacher at the Dubnoff Center for Child Development and Educational Therapy, with additional responsibilities as an Educational Therapist and tutor. From 1980 to 1982 she was Director of Dubnoff's Tutorial Services.

During her tenure at Dubnoff, Bettine designed special educational materials and curriculum that enabled individuals to reach their full potential and integrate into the wider culture. Over the decades many of her students credited her with transforming their lives.

Bettine and Lawrence moved to Santa Barbara in 1987, and the move rekindled her interest in native California flora and fauna as well as California history. Bettine cultivated her own spectacular garden on their 20-acre property and joined the docents at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. As a docent she led tours of the garden for all ages and brought outreach programs to the public schools. Under the Botanic Garden's auspices she worked in committees designing and developing teacher materials, training curricula and outreach programs.

Through the Botanic Garden she was a member of the Garden Growers, a group who propagate the use of native and drought tolerant plants, and the Master Gardeners, a joint program with UC Extension and the Botanic Garden that advises home gardeners.

Despite her busy schedule Bettine always made time for private piano students. A long-time board member of the Santa Barbara branch of the California Music Teacher Association, she continued her Music Ed. education, also becoming a board member of the Orff-Schulwerk organization and earning the Orff-Schulwerk certification.

Associate director of the Santa Barbara Children's Chorus from 1993-2000, she trained children ages 7 to 10 to become choir members, both as vocalists and musicians. She also acted as chorus conductor for parts of the regular concert programs that employed these kids.

From 2000 to 2009, Bettine was the vocal coach for the children's opera choir at the Grand Lake Montessori Opera Camp in Oakland. During performances she could be seen discretely cueing the kids from the front row of the audience.

Bettine sang with the Santa Barbara Choral Society, and she also enjoyed being a member of the non-performing group called Sing for Your Supper. Her love of dance was realized every Sunday evening when she and Lawrence could be seen shaking a leg at the Santa Barbara Country Dance Society dances, where Bettine was also a board member.

She and Lawrence backed up their passion for life, world peace and justice with their time, talents and generous contributions to carefully selected non-profit groups. Bettine walked the walk. Not only did she contribute financially, she wrote the letters, stuffed the envelopes and participated in the meetings and gatherings.

She is survived by her husband of 42 years, Lawrence Wallin, her daughter Alizon Ossman Harris, her brother Malcolm Kinney, her sister Grace Hart as well as four nieces, three nephews, and four grandchildren. Her son Devin Ossman passed away in 2008.

She spent a lifetime sharing her love of music and the arts. By example, she taught those who knew her how to live a full, active and meaningful existence.

She loved life. She was a wonderful, kind, beautiful, spunky and very special woman.

Bettine will be in our hearts forever.