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Ed Hinton
May 06, 1996
A charter member of the Hall of Fame, Betty Jameson could end up homeless
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May 06, 1996

Fading Fame

A charter member of the Hall of Fame, Betty Jameson could end up homeless

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It was the first and last time she would feel welcome there, in the hometown of the Tomboy from Thomasville, as sportswriters dubbed Faulk. At the time, says Jameson, "I was just a fan of hers. You know, you'd pick an amateur, or somebody [up-and-coming] that you were watching."

Their friendship didn't flower until 1961 when Jameson, somewhat impromptu, coached Faulk to the Western Open title. "Psychologically I helped her," recalls Jameson. "I talked to her every day. And she marched through that tournament, won it. That's when I first got to know her. I don't remember what I said. It was just something." But when Thomasville celebrated Faulk's triumphant homecoming, "they never asked me," says Jameson. "The family never welcomed me. Mr. Faulk [Mary Lena's father] was rather brusque, and Mrs. Faulk was never—I don't know—tolerating."

The Faulk family "thought I was, I guess, maybe too domineering," says Jameson. "I don't know why. But I did not care. I didn't find them that interesting, for one thing. If I'd found them that interesting, I could have had a little set-to: 'Why? What's going on here?' But I had lots of other things on my mind. And certainly Mary Lena, when she got out from under would have been very hard for her to live with her family and stay down in Thomasville after she'd been around. She was interested in cultural things, like I was, and that's why I was attracted to her. She was writing poetry when I first met her on the tour."

But to what purpose.
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

"We didn't like talking about death," says Jameson, "but over the years Mary Lena assured me I'd be taken care of, that I'd have a place to live and money to live on."

"The estate was opened, and Betty got nothing, despite spending more than 30 years with Mary Lena," says Bill Layton, the attorney who is representing Jameson, on contingency, in civil litigation. "The basis of the litigation is breach of contract. There was an oral agreement. Florida statutes say that sharing a house is evidence of some kind of agreement. As it stands, eviction proceedings could begin on three days' notice, because she has no lease and nothing in writing."

"The heirs offered [Jameson] a settlement to keep her in the house for two years, but she filed a suit to keep what I'd call a widow's portion of the estate," says John Ross Adams, an attorney who represents Jane Watt, who is Faulk's sister and executor of the will, and, indirectly, Kate Sedgwick of Washington, D.C., who is Faulk's niece and the sole beneficiary. "In California, [Jameson] might have a case, but I don't think she does in Florida. California is much more advanced in terms of palimony. I've had no pleasure in handling this case. I don't think the niece wants to evict her, but she doesn't want to support her for the rest of her life, either."

"The Faulk family," Layton alleges, "is basically representing Betty as a housekeeper."

"You've got to be kidding?" says Sally Iglehart, who has known Jameson and Faulk since they moved to Delray Beach in 1964. "No. That's insanity." Iglehart, widow of polo hall of famer Stewart Iglehart, laughs out loud. "I mean, you've been to the house!" The lovely clutter. "If anybody was a semblance of a housekeeper, it had to be Mary Lena. Mary Lena did all the cooking. The farmer and the artist, I always called them. Mary Lena liked to dig up the backyard and plant flowers and vegetables. And Betty was the abstract intellect. Never in my wildest dreams could I ever believe that Mary Lena would have wanted Betty to be left like this."

Here is a photo of Betty at maybe 44, but still the glamour girl, blonde with the quintessential Pepsodent smile. ("I've had some trouble with my teeth lately, and the dental bills—they called me the other day and said, 'Ms. Jameson, if you could just pay $5....' ") In the photo she is leaning over the shoulder of Mary Lena, who is sitting, legs crossed, maybe 38 at the time but still youthful, wide-eyed. This was circa 1963, when they decided to share a house and settled at first in Southern Pines, N.C., where they opened a sportswear shop together and immediately, merrily, failed at it.

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