- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

Betty Beale, a former columnist and reporter for The Washington Evening Star, The Washington Post and The Washing- ton Times, died of bladder cancer June 7 at the Washington Home hospice in the District. She was 94.

Born Nov. 6, 1911, in the District, Mrs. Beale was the granddaughter of U.S. Rep. T.W. Sims of Tennessee and the daughter of a banking executive.

After attending the Holton-Arms School and Smith College, Mrs. Beale wrote the “Top Hats and Tiaras” society column for The Post from 1937 to 1940.

In 1945, she joined The Star and worked there until 1981 as a reporter and columnist. She also wrote a weekly column for the North American Syndicate from 1953 to 1989. It was carried in as many as 90 newspapers across the country during the 1960s.

During her career, Mrs. Beale covered the official dinners and receptions at the White House during the terms of the eight presidents who served after the end of World War II.

She enjoyed covering the parties thrown by foreign ambassadors and U.S. dignitaries in each other’s honor and called that nightly scene “the essence of Washington.”

“If society can be described as the fashionable tableau that surrounds the people of influence,” she said, “Washington had the most important society in the world because no other city in the world influenced as many lives.”

To keep her readers informed, Mrs. Beale said she attended between five and 10 parties each week. She entertained four presidents and their wives in her home, including Ronald and Nancy Reagan on three Sunday summer evenings.

During one such dinner, Mrs. Beale said to the president, “The press call you the most powerful man in the world. Do you feel like the most powerful man in the world?”

Mr. Reagan replied: “Not a single budget I have submitted to the Congress has been passed. They table it and write their own.”

Mrs. Beale also entertained Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford and the first George Bush and their wives.

Time magazine called Mrs. Beale the best society columnist in the country.

After her retirement in 1989, she wrote her autobiography — “Power at Play: A Memoir of Parties, Politicians and the Presidents in My Bedroom,” which was feted at a party at the Hay-Adams Hotel in 1993.

After The Star folded in 1981, Mrs. Beale worked briefly as a columnist for The Times.

She received an award from the Freedom Foundation in 1969 for a column criticizing protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and was named a Woman of Distinction by Birmingham Southern College in 1987.

Mrs. Beale also was a columnist for Georgetown and Country in 1998 and 1999.

Her survivors include her husband of 37 years, George K. Graeber of the District; one stepson, George B. Graeber of Bethesda; one stepdaughter, Gretchen Quigley of Medford, N.J.; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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