Betty Fuller 1927-2006

Our much beloved Betty Fuller passed away peacefully on Sunday, February 19, 2006 around noon, at The Oaks, in Petaluma, California.

Betty was involved in all aspects of the Trager organization - she was everywhere: at the parties, at the office, at the trainings, teaching, working, laying on a massage table herself. Without Betty’s direction, the work of Milton Trager may never have been standardized enough to be taught and the organizational structure would not have been established to support world wide teaching of his work. She was the powerhouse behind everything, making sure that Milton’s work became known and practiced.

Personal History

Betty Fuller was born on April 1, 1927 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She was the daughter of Paul Merril Fuller and Dorothy C. Fuller.

She moved to California and taught High School drama from 1956-1966 and became the director of the drama program.

Betty worked as a consultant for educational, business and government institutions from 1967-1977.

She was a resident fellow at Esalen and was responsible for helping Fritz Perls in his first public appearance on the west coast. While at Esalen, Betty formed an association with Will Schutz and became a member of his Flying Circus Team of Group Leaders. She later joined him as Associate Director of the Center for Holistic Studies at Antioch in San Francisco.

She was also a student of Moshe Feldenkrais and together with Schutz and Kellerman co-sponsored the first Feldenkrais training program in the United States. Betty maintained one of the 2 existing Feldenkrais centers in the U.S. through 1976. She served on their Board of Directors

Quoting from an article written by Betty for “Common Ground- a directory of growth, healing, and spiritual experiences in the greater Bay Area” – Issue 22 – Winter 1980:

“I was a group leader – highly trained in encounter, gestalt, psycho synthesis, psychodrama and Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement. As an est graduate, I was trained by Werner to lead est graduate seminars. My professional role was clearly that of a person “on stage” in one way or another. Having spent 37 years (since age 3) literally on stage in theatre, radio and TV, I was confident, comfortable and doing okay. Then I met Milton Trager, M.D. and my path no only swerved – it hung a one-eighty.”

Members’ Reflections

“I have always been grateful to Betty for making me feel that I belonged in the world of Trager work. I had come to California from New York City, looking for my right livelihood and place in the world. I had no experience with bodywork and had never lived outside of N.Y. I felt as if I had stepped out of my known life into an alternate world. Learning Trager work was a challenge to me on all levels, and I struggled with many things, never really feeling a part of the Trager community and unsure about my abilities in the work. Then one early training, Betty sat me down on her knee - I don't remember her words - but I remember the feeling. It was a recognition of who I was, a validation of my place in the work, a feeling of unconditional love and support. Thank you, Betty, for a moment that has lasted a lifetime.”
-- Marsha J. Handel

“I had the joy of meeting Betty at what was then called Intermediate Training. What I remember most about her was the way she conducted the class. She has a little of the stern school teacher in her (I am using the present tense because she still lives on). After a break, it would be “Settle down class” or “Everyone back to their tables.” More like an order than a request. I love that about her. It was like my stern second grade teacher who was similarly abrupt. At times, Betty can be less than subtle. I remember when she working on my chest in that class. As she was feeling around, she came across one particular muscle and said “That’s a tough son of a bitch” in a Trager tone of voice. That was Betty and I love her for it.”
-- Ted VanNoord

“When I look at my hands as I touch a client, I remember Betty’s hands sculpting and feeling and teaching me the wonderfulness of being curious with my hands as well as my mind. When I notice how I’m using my body weight I remember being draped over Betty’s back and shoulders as she danced her body through a session. Betty poured into me the sensation of Trager as “the feeling of what’s possible.” She’s the first person who ever told me I “GROK”ed something. Betty taught me to hold hands with my toes, to work with my feet (instead of hands), to enjoy the counterbalancing swing of my butt, and to love bellies....juicy, soft, frightened, taut, voluptuous, empty, baby, bumpy, jelly, pregnant, lost, happy bellies. Bellies are always a group project for me–when my hands approach a belly I’m joined by an echo of Stephen Levine--“there’s room for everything in soft belly,” and I remember my first mindful encounter with my own belly, and I’m connected to other wonderful Trager bellies I’ve met along the way, and I smile as I see Betty’s hands sinking into mine as our hands then sink into the possibilities of the belly before us.”
-- Joyce Grace Nuttall

“I took my first training with Betty in November of 1981 at a training organized by Marianna Hartsong near Kingston Ontario. I recall Betty's stories of how she kidnapped Milton from Esalen, & took him & Emily to a hotel & wouldn't let him go until he showed her his work! How she dedicated her life to Milton & his work, & got him to teach, even though he wasn't really interested in teaching. One evening during that beginning training, Betty gave a "demo" in Kingston, & a group of us students went along to support her. I remember feeling so incredibly proud to be part of this Trager work, & how on the drive back to the resort where we were staying we saw a shooting star! Somehow I knew then that I wanted to dedicate my own path to this Trager work. On the way home from that beginning training, I had to pull over to the side of the highway, as I was crying so hard with joy at the enormous gift that I had been given. I remember looking at my hands with such gratitude at what Betty had managed to transmit in those five short days of training. I've never got over that feeling. I never will! Thank you Betty for a life of service to the Trager Approach, & to Milt & Emily, who you loved so much. Thank you for letting me work on your feet. Thank you for being hard on me from time to time! Thank you for being you.” With a grateful heart,
-- Nutan Joy

“We in the UK have lots to thank Betty for! The early days of Trager in the UK were full of enthusiasm and excitement for this “new” approach. However there were the usual ups and downs and I had reached a point of giving up when the phone rang – it was Betty- coming to Europe and offering to give us some Intro Workshops. An opportunity not to be missed - our first UK Trager training followed. We will remember her indefatigable energy, her dedication to teaching and passing on the essence of Trager, her generous heart and her great spirit – though one never knew which Betty was going to appear – the lost 3_ year old needing a hug or the vibrant, determined 60+ year old on a mission….”
-- Jill Dunley

“I have a book of Haikus that I wrote when in Key West a few years ago. I read them to her each day and she cried.”
-- Kathryn Hansman-Spice

Longer Reflections to Download as MS Word files

Betty - Martin R. Anderson

Excerpt: Betty gave me the greatest TRAGER session I ever had--two hours. (A short Betty session!) Of course, I was a curious receiver. I wanted to pay attention to feel how I would experience her doing certain moves. About twenty minutes into the session, I asked myself, "When is she going to start the session?" It felt, in Milton's concept like "nothing."

Memorandum for Betty – Martin Heigl

Excerpt : I spent 2 wonderful weeks in Betty´s home in Belvedere with the view of the Golden Gate bridge. Feeding the raccoons. Trading tablework with Betty almost everyday. Going shopping together, getting lost in talks and amusement. I got to know her lady landlord, her support group with the channel “Jack”. She took me to a Lazaris channeling event and sent me up to Harbin Hot springs to enjoy myself and see something different. It was a really wonderful time for me.

Betty’s Stories – Helena Kreowska

Excerpt: I don't remember what exactly Betty was telling us, and I think it is not so important here, but what IS important, is HOW she was telling these stories, HOW she was sharing her memories. Her voice was able to take us back in time, to describe how Milton was teaching, how he was treating people with disabilities, how he was using Hook Up to get things done properly. Betty was using her heart rather than words, her intuition and the warmest feelings a woman can have to make us understand what was that Phenomenon called Milton Trager.

Who is Betty Fuller – Dan McGovern

Excerpt: She came to my home in Massachusetts a day or so before we were to fly to Paris. The next morning my daughter Maura came down for breakfast and whispered, “Dad. That lady upstairs?” “You mean Betty?” “Dad she’s talking to herself!” I laughed, “I know she seems to have that habit.” “Yeah, but Dad you don’t understand.” “What” “She answers in another voice.” Over the years both Maura and I became quite acquainted with both Betty and her alter ego Boo.

Betty’s Skills By Bill Scholl

Excerpt: Each instructor came up and demonstrated his or her best compression, and they were all wonderful. Then Betty stepped up to the table, and in that moment of contact, I learned more about Trager than I had imagined possible. Everyone else was superb. Betty was there. Her touch was so simple, so non-intentioned, so with me that I was speechless.



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