The Life of St. Clair Elizabeth Melbourne

Obituary for St. Clair E. "Betty" Melbourne

St. Clair Elizabeth Melbourne, September 14, 1920-March 31, 2018

St. Clair Elizabeth “Betty” Melbourne (nee Cheney) of Drexel Hill, PA passed away on March 31. She was 97 years old. 

Betty was born in Oakland, California. She moved to Allston, Massachusetts when she was six years old. 

Betty attended Jackson College for Women, the Women’s college then affiliated with Tufts University, where she was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority. After two years she transferred to the University of Connecticut in Storrs, where she met her future husband, Arthur Burton Melbourne. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics in 1941. She earned her pilot’s license that same year.
After graduation, Betty spent a year working for the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company in Hartford. She married Arthur in 1942. Their sons, Arthur Thomas Melbourne and John Douglas Melbourne, were born in 1943 and 1946. In 1952, they bought the home in Drexel Hill where Betty would live the rest of her life.

In 1953, Betty taught mathematics at Drexel University. The next year, she accepted a position at Towers, Perrin, Forster, and Crosby, a management consulting firm. After fourteen years, she joined Huggins Associates, later Huggins-Hay Associates, an insurance consulting firm. There, among other responsibilities, she was an early computer programmer, working on punch cards. When she retired from Huggins-Hay in 1982, she was a Vice-President of the company.

During their 45 years of marriage, Betty and Arthur traveled extensively, both in the United States and abroad. After Arthur’s death, she continued traveling, sometimes with a friend or family member, but more often alone. She went on more than 20 cruises, including three Around-the-World trips and two trips to Antarctica, with her final cruise in 2016 including a para-sailing adventure. Just 15 days before her passing, she told her brother “I’d rather be cruising.” Though she was 23 days shy of the official milestone, the Holland-America company has granted Betty 5-Star Mariner status posthumously.

The former St. Clair Elizabeth Cheney was the wife of the late Arthur Burton Melbourne, medically retired from the US Army Air Corps in 1945 as a Major, who died October 13th, 1987. Mrs. Melbourne was preceded in death also by her parents, Dr. William Fitch Cheney, Jr. (February 7th, 1974) and Helene Kathryn (Walter) Cheney (April 28th, 1984); by her son, Arthur Thomas Melbourne (November 26th, 2014); by a daughter-in-law, Alma (Domjan) Melbourne (November 25th, 2010); and by a great-granddaughter, Hazel Melbourne Fidrych (December 8th, 2006).

She is survived by her son Dr. John Douglas Melbourne and his wife Lin of upstate New York; her daughter-in-law Shari Lynn (Lotz) Melbourne of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania; six grand-children: John and Alma’s sons, Dr. Jason Lee Melbourne and his wife Dr. Yasmin Lucero of Santa Monica, California, and Alden Matthew Melbourne and his wife Laura Gates of Los Angeles, California, and daughter Leila Dawn Melbourne and her husband Thomas Fidrych, Jr., of Boulder Creek, California; and Tom and Shari’s sons, John Andrew Melbourne of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and Andrew Thomas Melbourne and his wife Laura Brown of Springfield, Pennsylvania, and daughter Sarah Elizabeth Melbourne of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania; seven great-grandchildren: Timothy (Alden & Laura), Thomas (Leila & Thomas), Elizabeth (Jason & Yasmin), twins Isabella & Zoe (Leila & Thomas), August (Jason & Yasmin), and Samuel (Andrew & Laura); a brother Dr. William F. Cheney (Colonel, USAF, Retired) and his wife Elizabeth Daley of Alfred Station, New York; and 25 nieces and nephews (three generations worth).

Friends and family are invited to her Memorial Service Saturday, April 14, 2018 at The Donohue Funeral Home, 8401 West Chester Pike, Upper Darby, PA. Attendees may pay their respects to the family beginning at 2 PM. The service will begin at 3 PM.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to Girls Who Code (, a charity that encourages and supports young women pursuing careers in computer programming.

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