Betty Tisdale dedicated her life to improving the lives of orphans and at-risk children in developing countries, including Vietnam, Colombia, Afghanistan, Mexico and Haiti – providing shelter, nutrition, education, and healthcare.
Her first trip to Southeast Asia in 1961 was to work with An Lac Orphanage in Saigon, where she went on to adopt her five daughters. Her work quickly expanded to include clinics in Laos and Thailand and help for Tibetan refugees. As the war in Vietnam escalated, she made annual trips to care for the 400 children and babies at An Lac Orphanage. In April 1975, when the fighting came to within 12 miles of Saigon, Betty evacuated as many children as she could from the war zone; because of her heroic accomplishments she became known as “The Angel of Saigon.” The story of her dramatic rescue of 219 children is told in the movie, “The Children of An Lac.”
Betty has appeared many times on NBC Dateline, and her work has been reported in Life magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul (1st edition), the book Give Joy to My Youth, and in numerous articles. She received The Presidential Commendation in recognition of exceptional service to others, the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution, and an award by the government of South Vietnam for humanitarianism. She received the International Service of Mankind Award from the Sertoma Club. In 1999, the Mayor of Seattle proclaimed September 15 Betty Tisdale Day. In 2003 she received the Caring Award in Washington, D.C. She became a mother to children around the world.
Betty passed away gracefully in her Seattle home Wednesday, August 19, 2015, just shy of her 93rd birthday. She was comforted at the end by family and friends.
She will be sorely missed by her 10 children and 13 grandchildren, as well as by the thousands of people around the world whose lives she touched throughout the decades. She considered them all her extended family.
Betty donated her body to research, continuing her efforts to help others. She lived by her words, “One person can make a difference.” She will always be remembered for doing the work of angels.
Donations to her charity, HALO (Helping and Loving Orphans) can be made at BettyTisdale.com
Betty’s memorial service will be announced at a later time.