PRE-FLIGHT – Hawlet Cohen, 11, warms up at the Sitka Cirque studio as gymnasts stretch in the background Wednesday. Students from Sitka Cirque and the Sitka Gymnastics Academy will present a joint show 3 p.m. Saturday at the 207 Smith Street studio. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Services Scheduled For Mrs. Elizabeth Teal, 92

Mrs. Elizabeth Teal

It is with disbelief that the family and loved ones of Mrs. Elizabeth Teal, announce her passing on July 6, 2019, in Sitka. She was 92.
Mrs. Teal was born Martha Elizabeth Ryan on May 26, 1927, one of 12 children of Mr. and Mrs. Albert H. Ryan of Alki Beach, West Seattle.
When she was 10, she experienced the loss of her beloved Mother. During the following eight years, she was placed in 14 different foster homes, an experience that shaped who she was. She often said, “I wanted nothing but my Mother to return but I knew I couldn’t give up, I couldn’t ever give in.”
As a young woman, she worked numerous jobs to help a brother through college. Bob Ryan graduated from Wharton’s School of Business and ran his own wealth management firm until his death in 2012.
During World War II, Mrs. Teal worked on engines, a skill she never divulged, due to its not being ladylike. Manners were important to Mrs. Teal; that’s why she was always, “Mrs. Teal,” and never, “Elizabeth.” If you knew her well, she was simply Bette.
In 1950, Mrs. Teal married the love of her life, Col. W.B. Brinton, who at the time was a King County Commissioner. He built her dream home at 1904 Walnut Avenue SW, where they raised their three sons, Dorian Shelby Brinton, Bryan William Brinton, and James Robert Brinton. All three sons were Eagle Scouts.
Mrs. Teal was an avid outdoorsman and world traveler. She often traveled by ship to Europe to visit her sons, who attended the Munich International School. She instilled in her sons a love for the outdoors. Together they climbed Mt. Rainer, went spelunking in the Big Four Ice Caves, and skied the Alps,  along with taking countless hikes and camping trips.
Mrs. Teal’s boys were her life. All three sons were decorated veterans of the Vietnam War. Tragically, after returning safely from multiple tours in Vietnam, her son Jim Brinton set out on a kayak trip from La Push, Washington, to Tokyo, Japan, in 1971 and died attempting this feat. Less than a year and a half later, her son Dorian Brinton never resurfaced during a scuba diving lesson. He was studying to be an oceanographer. At this time, Mrs. Teal moved to Alaska to start a new life.
In 1973 she adopted her daughter Rosebud Sue Petra Thiel, granddaughter of Athabascan Chief Simon Francis. They made their home in their log cabin Mrs. Teal had built on the corner of 7th and Kellum in Fairbanks. In 1981, she adopted her daughter Blossom Juliana Teal after meeting Blossom’s great-aunt Alvira Downey on a trip to Kotzebue.
In 1983 Mrs. Teal sued the State of Alaska for the right to adopt her daughters and won, but in the process she lost her home on Kellum. This didn’t stop her from creating a home for her girls.
During this time, she earned her badge as a police officer for the City of Kotzebue, and in the late 1980s, early 1990s Mrs. Teal became a corrections officer in Fairbanks. She loved this profession and excelled at it. As a corrections officer, she pushed for more art programs and extended the Fairbanks Correctional Center’s book program. Reading was always important to Mrs. Teal.
Mrs. Teal was an audacious soul filled with stories and laughter. In 1993 she adopted her grandson Joseph James Martinez. She loved him dearly. She often said while people lived one life, she found herself in many because that’s what you do rather than give up, “Sometimes you have to start life over.” Sadly, her last son, Bryan Brinton was killed in 1994 when his truck ran over a mine in Bosnia. A photojournalist, he was photographing the effects of the war.
In 1997 Mrs. Teal moved from Kotzebue to Sitka. This was supposed to be a short-term move while her daughter Blossom attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School but she fell in love with the rainforest. This is where she raised her grandson.
During her life, Mrs. Teal touched many lives. She believed in tenacity and had true grit. She was an avid reader, a fluent speaker in German, French, Latin, Gwitch’n Athabascan, and Inupiaq.
Mrs. Teal believed in asking questions and held many intriguing conversations with anyone who wanted to talk or with anyone who was good at listening. Mrs. Teal believed in giving and the power of God’s love. Above all, she believed in a good walk.
Mrs. Elizabeth “Bette” Teal leaves behind her daughter Rosebud Sanchez (husband Johnny Sanchez) of Long Beaqch, California, and grandsons Joseph James Martinez of Sitka and Marcel Thiel, and Johntae Sanchez, of Long Beach; daughter Blossom Twitchell (fiancé Frederick Olsen Jr.), and grandson Allistair Twitchell, and granddaughters Teslin and Lucca Bea Twitchell, all of Sitka.
“Our Mother and Grandmother joined her beloved sons Jim, Dorian and Bryan Brinton; her loving husband Col. Wilmer Bryant Brinton; her mother Ethel and father Albert; her 12 siblings; and the faithful family dog Miki MacKenzie Teal,” her family said.
On behalf of Mrs. Teal, her family thanked the staff of SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and Sitka EMS for providing exemplary medical service to her throughout the years.
A memorial service will be held 5 p.m. August 7 at St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests letters be written to an inmate.

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