paula  j.betlem
Greece: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 entered into eternal rest. Predeceased by her beloved father, Frederick and long time companion, Michael Ford. Survived by her mother; Eleanor, brother; David (Anne), uncle; Paul Bonnet, nephew; Todd (Christine), niece; Deborah (Keith) Anderson; great nephew; Kaelan Anderson; cousins; Barbara (Lee) Ringette, Gloria (Kent) Diver, Robert (Susan) Bonnet and Anne Bonnet; best friend Judy Ormond and Michael Biondi. Upon completion of her studies at American Academy, Paris, France and graduation from SUNY Geneseo, Paula embarked on her theatrical career. Paula's initial ventures into theater began with roles in numerous local community theater productions evolving into featured roles with Stage III productions. She then relocated to New York City enrolling in prestigious dance and vocal academies while continuing her career. Upon receiving membership into the Actors Equity League Paula began performing in touring production with performances across the United States and throughout Europe in shows such as Annie, 42nd Street, Anything Goes and Funny Girl. Paula also received accolades as a featured performer and choreographer for the America Steamboat Co. in New Orleans, La. In a career that included roles on Broadway stages Paula would constantly seek opportunities to perform in her hometown. Downstairs Cabaret Theater and GEVA being two of her favorite performance venues. She may be best remembered locally for her portrayal in Sister Robert Anne in DCT's long running production in Nunsense. A caring mentor, she helped countless children who expressed interest in song and dance with continuing support during their development in the performing arts. Paula wished to thank her many friends and those who provided inspiration, caring, and support during her illness and throughout her life with grateful acknowledgement to the staffs of the 6-3400 and 4-1200 units of Strong Memorial Hospital. Friends may call Friday 2-4 & 7-9 PM at the Vay-Schleich & Meeson Funeral Home 1075 Long Pond Road, Greece Chapel. Her Funeral Service will be held Saturday 12:00 Noon in the funeral home chapel. Private Internment. In Lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Humane Society at Lollypop Farm or charity of one's choice in her memory.

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  1. A smart, kind and talented life that was way too short. The ‘twinkle’ in your eyes and that knowing ‘grin’ will be forever in my mind. Paula, you are loved and will truly be missed. May God keep you in his everlasting arms my friend!

  2. As you know, I loved Paula very much. She was my last partner on the riverboats before coming to law school. I miss her talent, her smile, and, of course, her sense of humor. I know she is dancing up a storm in Heaven!

  3. Both Carole and I are sending our heartfelt sympathy and positive thoughts to the family. I taught with Eleanor for many years in Greece and remember all the ‘good old days’. Sincerely, Jack Wood

  4. Dear Eleanor and Paula’s friends and family,
    Our hearts go out to you on your loss. We will all miss her smile, great talent and friendship.
    Love, Phil and Linda

  5. Dear Family and Friends of Paula,
    It was my priviledge to have Paula in my ballet class while she was a student in
    Geneseo and later to feel so proud of her performances in NUNSENSE.
    She is part of a group of students that have a special place in my heart’s memory.
    She was so full of the joy of life, never failing to come up with a smile to go along with her many, many talents.
    You must all be so proud of this life so well lived, growing into all that God meant her to be both personally and professionally. And now her soul is forever in the Light.
    Peace be with you, Suzanne Nash

  6. Dear Paula;

    You were a wonderful artist and human being. I’m so glad we were able to share time in life and and on stage. Rest in peace, my friend. My best to all family and friend.

    Much love,

    Tim Howard

  7. Dearest Paula, I will always remember your wonderful heartfelt performances at the Downstairs Cabaret. Your warmth and terrific personality always shown through in all your various characters. You were a really wonderful nun. I offer my condolances to your mother, Eleanor. I knew her from Greece Central Schools. You will be greatly missed. Sleep well and rest in peace. Carol Brown

  8. Eleanor,
    My prayers and thoughts are with you. I have such fond memories of Paula as a dance student, and then as a performer as I watched her spread her wings and fly! How many times I sat through ‘Nunsense’ and ‘Anything Goes’ to name a few. i will always be thankful for Paula coming to my rescue when I was ill-she came and took over the studio for me! Her smile, talent and passion will be missed by so many! Rest in peace Paula-I’m sure you are entertaining all in heaven now–you will certainly be missed by all who knew you!

  9. Farewell for now dear Paula. I will miss you very much. We had many great times aboard the American Queen . I will never forget you.

  10. How much fun we had on that summer tour of ANYTHING GOES! and remained friends for years. So sorry to have lost track along the way. You were up and down the Mississippi, while I was in NYC or hopping all over the country. Your sense of humor and talent was such a gift to us all and will always be cherished. Thanks for the loving memories dear one.

  11. I also had the privilege of working with Paula both in Hawaii and on the AQ. Her sense of humor and talent were always on display–there was a lot of laughter when we were all together. She also set such a wonderful example of professionalism and hard work in the theatre…I learned a lot from her both professionally and personally. You just can’t distill Paula into words…she was something really wonderful and one of a kind. Thank you Paula for being you.

  12. I am so grateful to have known and worked with Paula. My deepest condolences to her family, and to all who shared the warmth of her special light.

  13. I am so sorry that I cannot be with Paula’s family and friends this Friday and Saturday, as I have to drive my daughter back to college in NYC. I wanted to especially talk with Paula’s mom again. I had visited with her a little in Paula’s hospital room, but can only imagine her grief. I lost my brother David to cancer when he was 50, and I know that my parents never recovered, but I also know they got a lot of comfort from the many friends who reached out to them at the time. So…Mrs. B., I am so very sorry for your loss and I share your pain.
    Love always,
    Sally Cohen (Sr. Amnesia)

  14. I am ssaddened to learn of Paula’s passing. We were roommates in Geneseo. I have such a special place in my heart for Paula, she always brought a smile to my face! She taught me my only few tap steps I ever learned! I can still see her as a freshman, tapping her way up and down the dorm hall at Livingston! The world has lost a wonderful person and I, a friend. Be at peace, Paula.

  15. I knew Paula when she was attending SUNY Geneseo and first met her while she was part-timing it at the Holiday Inn, driving her to her job on days when the rain poured down and she tried to walk the mile and a half. Sporting her saddle shoes and always with a contagious smile, I remember her dancing finesse, shy conversations, kindness to others and wonderful sense of humor. My prayers are for her mother and family as she awaits us in perfect peace.

  16. I met Paula at SUNY Geneseo in 1971. We were room mates there in the summer of 1972. She was a bridesmaid in our wedding on May 26th, 1973. She kept in touch with me through the years. Sometimes a visit, sometimes a call, sometimes a card, sometimes an email. I often went to see her perform throughout the area. She was always loving and fun. Her life was always so exciting. She did so many fabulous things. I have never known anyone else like her and I probably never will. She was absolutely one of a kind. So intelligent, so talented, so professional, so comical and so beautiful – that was her. It was an honor and a prviledge to be her friend. I will not forget her, not ever. With love, Ivy

  17. I worked with Paula for many years on the riverboats and will always be grateful for her friendship and presence in my life. One time after one of our shows, Paula was greeting a passenger who was complimenting her on how much she enjoyed the show. At the end of the exchange instead of saying, ‘It was nice meeting you’ Paula involuntarily said, ‘Thanks for knowing me!’ We laughed long and hard at this fairly typical Paula-ism! And it sort of became the cast’s slogan. Well now it seems the most appropriate thing I could possibly say to this wonderful woman whom I will miss so much. Thanks for knowing me, indeed!

  18. It was a privilege to work w/ Paula; her low key, right on target sense of humor,her powerful voice , fierce tapping,and her friendship during the year we did Nunsense together is a permanent memory of a very special person and entertainer. She will be missed, but never forgotten. God bless her family and loved ones during this time of loss. Sincerely, Kathy Robinson

  19. Mrs. Betlem,David and family. I want extend my greif in hearing of Paula’s passing.My mother,wife and I ran into Paula and her ,mother at the Barnard Exempts a couple of months ago. It was so nice to see both of them but especially Paula. We talked a little about her past and future projects. As a musician I always envied her pursuit of a career ‘on the boards’. I feel fortunate that I did get to see her.My mother was also thrilled to see Paula as she was one of her former piano students. Now that my mother also passed I think the meeting was ‘meant to be’ Tom Bruce

  20. My heart goes out to my very dear friend, Eleanor. We taught across the hall together and shared our joys and tears. I know what a loss it is to see Paula leave for a better place.
    Paula was so loved by everyone. She was talented, always kind and caring of others. What a talented girl she was!
    Her performances were always so entertaining. I had the joy of accompanying her in singing ‘The Vatican Rag’ at Eleanor’s retirement party. She touched hearts all over the world. God bless you, Paula. You’re in His hands now.

  21. My heartfelt condolences to everyone who loved Paula. Her dear family, her wonderful friends near and far, and all those she touched with her sweet soul, her amazing talent, and her beautiful presence. We are all blessed to have known her. She truly will be missed!

    She will always be a shining star.

    All my very best wishes,

  22. My sincere condolences to Paula’s family. I only knew Paula as a fellow student and actor/dancer while at Geneseo. We lost touch over the years, but what a remarkable career she had. Her fountain of artistry was flowing wonderfully at school and it was obvious that she would go far and share her many talents with the world. We are sad when artistic careers are cut short, but heartened because Paula was able to accomplish so much in the years she had and all this incredible body of work lives on in all of us forever…

  23. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and frineds of Paula. She was a wonderful, vivacious person and will be greatly missed. May she now rest in peace.

  24. Oh Paula… loved. So very kind. So gentle . So talented. I remember all of our time working together. I remember my reaction when you shared that youquestioned your talent as a singer not sure that you should spread your wings and fly into your fabulousfuture…Stage III had closed and you were performing at ’42’….and you actually questioned your talent. Silly girl! And so you flew and oh so high! Now you fly in a different way…now you know I was right: there is no end. Just a leaving behind of the vessel…thank you for letting me know theday you departed that it is true….’A DIME!!’. Oh Paula when I found that dime in the pocket where no dime should have been, my heart rejoiced…and I shared the story with your loved ones so that they know too. You are just one of those souls Paula who never leaves ones’ heart once you have entered! It mattered not that we didn’t see each other for years at a time…and now we will be in touch always…may I be as gracious at my time of earthly departure as you were my friend. My friend, Paula. Pppjjjbbb. As your email said whenyou told me, I love you and wouldn’t have missed our friendship for the world.

  25. Paula was one of my best dance students at Geneseo, and danced in a number of my choreographies. I followed her career with interest, but only re-connected with her last November. She will be greatly missed by her family, many friends, and theatrical colleagues. Dear Paula, rest in peace.
    Scott Ray

  26. Paula will leave so much love and gratitude in the hearts of all. I met her at DCT in Nunsense and was humbled to share the stage with her briefly.
    She is safe and free soaring with wings, just like she did on earth!

  27. Paula you will missed by your family and friends. We are sure you are singing in the heavenly choir. We remember your shining smile. I only worked with you for a short while but you made me feel a part of our steamboatin’ family.

  28. Paula, you were a light in our steamboatin’ lives! Your wonderful sense of humor and positive attitude made the bad days good and the good days great. Your incredible talent inspired many. But most of all you were a wonderful friend and I will cherish our time together. People will always wonder how you got all the hair under those wigs.

  29. Paula—the most prepared, the most intense, the huge talent, the steady demeanor,whose passion for the stage and for life brought so many such great joy: The memories of you in my life those wonderful years are as fresh as if they happened yesterday. May you rest in peace knowing that you followed your dream and achieved what you set out to do and feel from this life. With sincere sympathy to Eleanor, David and family and fiends.

  30. RIP Paula. I had the pleasure of meeting her when working at Delta Queen Steamboat Company. She was not only a talented performer but one of the kindest, sweetest woman I have ever met.

  31. So sorry I never got a chance to say goodbye…didn’t even know you were sick. You’re a great girl, can’t believe you’re gone. Hope you’ve been rewarded with heaven. Bye, Paula

  32. Thank you, Paula, for your friendship in this life and for bringing joy to all the passengers and crew aboard the Delta Queen Steamboats. You brightly lighted the stage and our lives with your talent and warmth. Sing and dance with the angels now in your heavenly home. Love, Jazzou

  33. The Heavens are sweeter with your presence. Your kindness to me and to everyone you encountered will long live in the hearts and souls you touched. You were an angel on earth and will, no doubt, continue that career in Heaven.

  34. To My friend Paula,
    We were each other’s confidant, each other’s shoulder when needed, sounding board when necessary. You were the best friend and neighbor I will ever have, I miss you. We hung around together and talked for hours. We broke bread together and drank a bit too. There are many memories burned in my heart of hearts and you have left a paw print on my soul. While you are up in Heaven, please watch over my passed pets Jason and Austin. They will keep you safe until I join you. I am glad you have met the new baby Abby.
    Know that we will all be together again. My furry four legged friends and our fathers and friends together again.
    I know that you are with friends and family now and are protected from all dangers. Therefore, you will never be alone again.
    I hope in my heart of hearts that you think of our friendship with love, as I will. Until I see you, again your memories will warm my heart.
    Your friend still until my end
    Beth Dunch

  35. To Paula’s Family & Friends. Tom & I worked with Paula on The American & Delta Queen Steamboats. She was one of the sweetest, nicest people we have ever known. She was loved by everyone who ever knew her. It’s so hard to say good-bye to this beautiful, beloved lady. She will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace Paula.

  36. We are both sadden by the news of Paula’s passing. Our prayers and thoughts are with you. I was out of town camping wih the Boy Scouts, so i didn’t hear the news until late Sunday.

    We will always remember her entertaining our group as we sailed with her abord the American Queen. Entertaing people was just one of her many gifts that she shared with others, Im sure she’s dancing up a storm in heaven

    Brian & elizabeth Smith

  37. Your spirit will live on. I will miss you my dear, talented friend. I know you will continue to soar in heaven. Thank you for the joy you brought to our lives!

  38. Paula,

    I was so sad when I discovered the news. You were a wonderful person and you made that part of my life at the Cabaret a happy time. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to know you and shine my spotlight on you. Now you are shining your own light, eternally. I will never forget you, Paula. Rest High On That Mountain.

    Nick D’Ambrosia

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