Our favorite regulars Victor and Betty Nuovo came to dine at Jessica’s at Swift House Inn a lot. We saw them here at a few breakfasts and dinners every week, if not more! As new owners, it felt so good for Matthew and me to be supported by such esteemed and accomplished members of the community. Victor Nuovo is the Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Middlebury College, and Betty Nuovo had a 30-year history in the Vermont legislature, which has shaped the state’s progressive agenda as we know it today. We recently received the sad news that Betty Nuovo passed away on July 4, 2023. We are proud to share the reasons why we will always love her.
March is Women’s History Month. So we thought it would be a great chance to put together this list of 5 Reasons Why We Love Betty Nuovo. This gave us a chance to learn more about her as a person as well as her accomplishments in politics and law. If Betty Nuovo doesn’t stand for Women’s History, then I don’t know who does!
1. We love Betty because she is a feminist.
According to Victor, “Betty was from the beginning of her political life a feminist; she wanted it to be clear that women have an equal right with men to govern. As a legislator, she introduced the first hate crimes bill in Vermont; she also introduced the federal Equal Rights Amendment for ratification (it passed), which still hasn’t been ratified nationally. But she isn’t a one-issue feminist; she recognizes that justice knows no gender, race, or ethnicity.” We’ll see how this drive for justice and equality for women filters into the other reasons that we love Betty!
2. We love Betty because she was a groundbreaking Vermont legislator.
During her 30 years in office, Betty worked tirelessly on behalf of the most vulnerable members of society. As Victor mentioned above, she introduced the state’s first hate crimes bill, which is still so timely and relevant especially now! She sponsored numerous bills that stood up for the rights of the homeless, child survivors of abuse and trauma, pregnant workers, depressed and mentally ill people, people with disabilities, people with autism, and the list goes on and on. Now that’s a wonder woman.
From left, Victor Nuovo, his granddaughter Sofia, daughter-in-law Mary Beth, Betty Nuovo, their oldest son Victor, the other granddaughter Giuliana, and their younger son Thomas.
3. We love Betty because she is a wonderful mom, grandmother, wife, and member of the community.
According to Victor, Betty was a great new mom: “I remember when our first child was born she insisted on breast feeding him; there was some resistance at the hospital, and from some relatives, but she insisted.” Betty was way ahead of her time! Breast milk keeps babies healthy, builds their immune systems, and fosters warmth and connection between mom and baby. Before the baby came along, Betty had worked as a schoolteacher to put Victor through school. She still has that nurturing vibe, which lights up Jessica’s dining room whenever she comes to eat.
4. We love Betty because she was one of the first 100 women lawyers in Vermont.
We cannot imagine how hard it was to raise a family while attaining this enormous achievement. Her desire to stand up for the least powerful drove her to apply her great mind to fixing social problems with real results. She passed the bar exam in 1974 and continued to practice for 22 years.
5. We love Betty because she and Victor make such a cute couple. They’re still going strong after 68 years.
Maybe this isn’t as noble as the hate-crime bills thing, but we have to include that Victor and Betty are Middlebury’s cutest couple. They were both kids in Queens, New York and had seen each other around, but didn’t really know each other. All of that changed after World War II when his brother married her sister. Of course, they were both in the wedding, with Victor as an usher and Betty as a bridesmaid. “We were paired off,” Victor says. “That summer (1952), her parents invited me to their farm, and our fate was sealed. We married the next year (1953).” Ever the feminist, Betty made the first move which led to this history-making romance. Says Victor, “It has been wonderful.”
All in all, we’d have to say it’s an honor to serve Betty Nuovo her pancakes and bacon for breakfast!