Betsy Tinsman Dustman

March 7, 1928May 29, 2021

Betsy Dustman, 93, died peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on May 29, 2021. Betsy lived a vibrant life, had unbounded energy, and brought joy to everyone around her. She was the center of a family she adored, and was deeply involved in the Indianapolis community. Betsy was born in Kansas City, Missouri on March 7, 1928 to Elizabeth Scanlan and R. Hovey Tinsman. She graduated from St. Katherine’s School in Davenport, IA in 1945, and Pine Manor College in 1947. Betsy owned and ran the Green Lake County Reporter in the late 1950’s in Green Lake, WI. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Butler University in 1968 and a Master’s Degree in Education in 1973 from Butler to begin her long career as an educator. Betsy served The Orchard School in Indianapolis for more than 50 years, where she started as a fourth grade teacher in 1968 and subsequently handled fundraising, admissions, building projects and rose to be Assistant Head Master, and remained active on the Board of Governors until she passed. She received the Sagamore of Wabash Award in 1987 from Governor Orr and a Key to Indianapolis from Mayor Hudnut for her contributions to the community. Betsy approached life with a voracious curiosity. She traveled to dozens of countries on a quest to learn about other cultures and art, and enjoy a glass of wine with the people she loved. Nothing delighted her more than doing something “different.” Betsy was irrepressibly active, famous for a tireless regimen of walking, kayaking, Pilates, and cycling (with her trademark orange flag). Her dinner parties and Christmas cards were legendary. Betsy and her late husband Jack were strong advocates for Goodwill Industries and Goodwill’s mission to empower people to improve their own lives. Betsy was a passionate supporter of Newfields and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where she frequently strolled the grounds to admire the newest bloom or latest exhibit. She was particularly delighted to support Newfields’ Winter Lights program, which introduced so many people to this special place. She loved gardening, and was a long term member of The Garden Club of Indianapolis. She was a member of Meridian Hills Country Club. Betsy’s deepest passion was her family. She travelled constantly to be with her children and grandchildren; was the star of every wedding, graduation, and holiday; and gathered the family every summer in Green Lake, WI for non-stop days of kayaking, biking, and family meals. She was married to Jack Dustman for 27 years until his passing in 2006. She leaves behind a beloved and tight-knit family: Mark Francis; Kent Francis family including Kathy Francis, Christopher Francis, Johnathon and Liz Francis; Tod Francis family including Bonnie Matlock, Taylor and Brian Francis; Laurie Myers family including Gary Myers, Katherine Myers and Johnny Lippincott; Tom Mercer family including Judy Mercer, Tom and Mary Mercer and Ben Mercer; her brother W. Scott Tinsman and his wife Barbara, and her sister-in-law Maggie Tinsman. Betsy had four great grandchildren who she adored. She was predeceased by her brother R. Hovey Tinsman and step-daughter Jan Mercer. A celebration of life for Betsy will begin at 4:00 pm on Thursday, June 10th at Newfields. Immediately following services, all are welcome to join Betsy’s family for a continued time of fellowship and refreshments. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in her name to Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, Newfields or The Orchard School; all organizations to which she was deeply devoted.


  • Celebration of Life

    Thursday, June 10, 2021


Betsy Tinsman Dustman

have a memory or condolence to add?

Beverly Hudnut

June 11, 2021

I learned today that Betsy had passed, and it makes me very sad. We last communicated in January when I received a "non-Betsy-like" email that suggested that her email was hacked. I printed it out, mailed it to Betsy to give her heads-up, and she called to follow up.

It was so nice to hear her voice and to reflect on the shared memories we have/had about so many happy times together with our dear husbands Bill and Jack. Betsy and Jack hosted the best dinner parties, and we enjoyed many quiet times together just the four of us. I'll be forever grateful for their friendship over the years. 

Betsy loved her family so, so much. My heart goes out to each of you as you navigate this loss.

David DeBrota

June 10, 2021

"Mrs. Francis" was my 4th grade teacher at Orchard. I was bored out of my skull in "mathematics" (which was really just arithmetic, at that point). She gave me a chance to work ahead. By the end of the year I was ready to move into 6th grade math, which I did the next year. I often credit her with getting me onto a path that ultimately made me a successful scientist and physician.

John Myrland

June 8, 2021

My thoughts and prayers are with you as you say goodbye to Betsy. She was truly "the woman behind the man!" (Or maybe the woman BESIDE the man!) As president of the Indianapolis chamber from 1991-2005, I had many interactions with both Jack and Betsy. They were always very good and gracious to me, and I treasure their friendship and support. In recent years I enjoyed chatting with Betsy as she walked or rode her bike in the neighborhood. What a trooper! She will be missed by Nancy and me...and, by so many others friends!

Charles Clark

June 8, 2021

Gail & I are saddened to hear of Betsy Dustman’s passing yesterday. As a former HOS at Orchard for 10 years following Gordon Thompson’s 44 year remarkable tenure, it was Betsy who made it all happen seamless. Following such an icon became a delightful experience for us especially when traveling every Tuesday to Rotary Club meetings downtown, which was engineered by Betsy. Her loyalty was always to Orchard through and through solving problems where no one else could. Betsy was the glue that kept us moving forward. I will miss her and Jack and Betsy’s lovely annual family Christmas card.
Charlie & Gail Clark

Diana Najjar

June 7, 2021

I will always be grateful to Betsy as she introduced my family to an organization that gave a scholarship to my niece to attend Orchard. That scholarship afforded my niece an outstanding educational opportunity for six years. She entered Orchard at 3rd grade, but was reading at the pre-primer level. She left Orchard scoring in the 97%ile on some of her National tests. Her life was totally changed. Thank you, Betsy, for all you did to help this child, and so many more that only you will every know.

Charles Sutphin

June 6, 2021

I remember Betsy from myriad stages of life -- beginning with Spring Mill School and transiting through post-Orchard days. She was always so kind and friendly. I had tremendous respect for her. My last physical encounter with Betsy was her riding her bike past my house down the 70th St. hill. Helmet on head, she stopped and we had a nice neighborly chat for about 20 minutes. She will be deeply missed by friends, family and the community she loved.

Jim Merritt

June 6, 2021

My best to you, Kent and Tod 🙏🏻

Liz Lindsley

June 5, 2021

Aunt Betsy is now at rest. Her work here was filled with passion and reached so many souls in the communities she faithfully served. Prayers in these most difficult days. May we find comfort in the legacies she has left behind.
The Lindsley family

Paco and Jamie Argiz Gibbs

June 4, 2021

Betsy was a bright star. Her knowledge and compassion were boundless. We valued her friendship beyond any norms. We were so fortunate to count her as a member of our inner-most circle and will miss her everyday. Her memory lives on in the many people influenced by our most valued friend.