Open whatever dictionary you choose and look up the word gracious, you will see a picture of Bettina Jenney. Then turn to soft-spoken and, again, there will be a photo of Bettina. Then turn to the words beautiful and elegant and there she is again and again.
The year was 1976 and Dixie and I had been married for five years. We were still in the show-horse business working for the Wetherill family in Pennsylvania but we had gone to Saratoga on our honeymoon and ever since I had been trying to figure out how to get back to Saratoga and involved in the yearling sales business.
I had heard that Marshall and Bettina Jenney used show-horse handlers to show their yearlings and so I called Marshall and talked my way onto his crew for that August. I don’t remember much about that sale but I remember two things clearly – a Northern Dancer filly out of Pas de Nom and Bettina Jenney.
Bettina died in her sleep last month and we are all the worse for it (see obituary below). We all lost a shining beacon of beauty, civility, grace and love.
She and Marshall created a tremendously successful breeding program at their pastorally beautiful Derry Meeting Farm in Pennsylvania. To know the success that Derry Meeting achieved you need only know that Storm Cat and Danzig were both born in the Derry Meeting foaling barn.
Everything that Marshall accomplished was done in the biggest and most colorful manner possible. Always, in what appeared to be the background, there was Bettina at his side. He drove a four-in-hand. He flew a plane. He went to the Denver Stock Show and came home with a 10-gallon hat and a herd of cattle. Nothing was too outlandish for Marshall.
Through it all, there was Bettina smiling and entertaining all of Marshall’s far-flung friends and clients. She seemed always to be happy in the huge shadow that her husband cast. Little did many of us know that, beneath that veneer of gentility, lay a shrewd businesswoman and a horsewoman who had absorbed all of Marshall’s knowledge and savvy.
When Marshall died suddenly and tragically in 2000 the conventional wisdom was that Bettina would sell Derry Meeting and enjoy the rest of her life in comfort surrounded by her daughters, Lindsay and Sally and their children. However, buoyed by longtime friend and client George Strawbridge, Bettina decided to remain at Derry Meeting and continue the work that she and Marshall had begun. With James Wiggan and Brian O’Rourke as her advisors, she retained the Derry Meeting broodmare band and continued to operate the farm as a full-service Thoroughbred nursery.
Bettina continued to take the Derry Meeting consignment to Saratoga with great success even selling a $1 million yearling on behalf of Strawbridge’s Agustin Stable. She retained a filly that did not meet her reserve and which she named Mrs. Lindsay after her mother. Mrs. Lindsay was out of Vole Vole Monamour a great granddaughter of the Derry Meeting-bred and European champion Mrs. Penny. Racing in the Derry Meeting colors, Mrs. Lindsay won Grade and Group 1 races on both sides of the Atlantic and $1,201,000. Vole Vole Monamour also produced the Grade 1 winner Dame Dorothy which earned $749,740.
Looking back to that Saratoga Sale in 1976, the Northern Dancer filly I remember became the stakes winner Dame Margot. Her younger full-brother which sold the following year was named Danzig and he has shaped the breed ever since.
Bettina and Marshall had many friends from all over the world. As we enter the new decade all of them will fondly remember Bettina for her beauty, graciousness and soothing demeanor but she will also be remembered for her steely determination to continue the Derry Meeting legacy that she and Marshall built over the decades.
Obituary – Bettina Jenney
Bettina Lindsay Jenney, a retired breeder of Thoroughbred racehorses, died peacefully at home at Stonegates in Greenville, Del. Dec. 22 from cancer. She was 86 years old.
Born in Bedford Hills N.Y., she grew up in Lake Forest, Ill., graduated from Garrison Forest School and attended Smith College. After Smith, she moved to New York City to work for Time, Inc. She then married Josiah Marvel Scott (Jay) Scott, from Wilmington, Del., and lived in Wilmington where they raised their two daughters.
After Scott died, Bettina married Marshall Jenney and moved to Derry Meeting Farm in Cochranville, Pa. Derry Meeting bred the influential sire Danzig, English and Irish champion Mrs. Penny, and millionaire winner Yankee Affair. After Jenney died, Bettina managed the farm, and bred the talented Mrs. Lindsay (named after her mother), winner of top races in France and Canada.
The family is so grateful for all the caregivers that helped Bettina, especially over this past year. A memorial service will be held at Christ Church Christiana Hundred, Wilmington, Del. on Jan. 9 at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Newfound Lake Region Association, 10 North Main Street, Unit 1, Bristol, N.H. 03222. Being at her family’s house on Newfound Lake was the highlight of Bettina’s year.
She is survived by her sister, Seton Lindsay O’Reilly of Litchfield, Conn., daughters Lindsay Scott of Wilmington, Del. and Sally Scott of Baltimore, Md., four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, as well as stepdaughters Annie Jenney Darrow of Baltimore, Md., and Laura Jenney Roe of Bozeman, Mont. and their five children.