Bette Jacobs Gifford, 89

Designer and Volunteer
Bette Jacobs Gifford, 89

Bette Jean Jacobs Gifford of East Hampton, a fashion designer, master gardener, and dedicated volunteer for organizations that helped those in need, including the local Meals on Wheels, died of a stroke on March 25 at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. She was 89. 

Ms. Gifford was a longtime summer resident of East Hampton. She moved here permanently in 2015 and worked weekly with Meals on Wheels until shortly before her death. 

Ms. Gifford’s career in fashion began at Vogue Patterns in Manhattan, where she led the design department. She then worked for several clothing companies, including White Stag, Raven Industries, and Gerry Outdoor Sports, for which she designed outerwear such as outfits for skiing. Her fashion expertise was also sought out by fashion magazines, which employed her as an adviser. She had studied fashion design at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Fla., and at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.  

While living in New York City, where she loved walking in Central Park, she had volunteered at New York University’s Langone Rusk Institute for horticultural therapy. She also volunteered at the Burden Center for the Aging and the New York Horticulture Society. 

At the age of 62, looking to work part-time in a profession in which she could help people, she went back to school, attending LaGuardia Community College and earning a degree as an occupational therapist assistant 

She was born in DeLand, Fla., to the former Geraldine A. Jacobs and W.O. (Jake) Jacobs, and spent her early childhood in Akron, Ohio, before moving with her family back to a dairy farm in Port Orange, Fla., where she grew up. 

Ms. Gifford’s ex-husband, Arnold B. Gifford, and a brother, Bill Jacobs, died before her. She is survived by a sister, Shirley McLaughlin of Charleston, S.C., a brother, Charles Jacobs of Jacksonville, Fla., several nieces and nephews, and a dear friend, Tema Sines.

A memorial is planned for Sunday at 5 p.m. at Louse Point on Accabonac Harbor. The family has suggested memorial donations to Meals on Wheels, 33 Newtown Lane, #205, East Hampton 11937.