Betty Olds cuts the ribbon to a new Berkeley path that bears her name. She is watched by (l to r): Mayor Tom Bates, State Senator Loni Hancock, and Berkeley City Councilwoman Susan Wengraf. Photo: Colleen Neff

Former long-serving city councilwoman Betty Olds cut the ribbon on Saturday to open a newly completed path in the Berkeley Hills that has been named after her.

Mayor Tom Bates, State Senator Loni Hancock, and City Councilwoman Susan Wengraf, as well as nearly 50 friends, family, neighbors and path enthusiasts, joined Olds to mark the event.

Betty Olds, for whom one of Berkeley’s paths was named on Saturday Jan. 11, 2014. Photo: Colleen Neff

Olds served for 16 years on the Berkeley City Council representing District 6 (Susan Wengraf, who now represents District 6, was an aide to Olds), and, before that, six years on the Zoning Adjustments Board and eight years on the Rent Stabilization Board.

When she retired in 2008 at the age of 88, she was likely one of the nation’s oldest elected officials.

Olds was known for being an independent voice, for saying what she meant, whether it was offensive or not and was referred to as variously “prickly” and the “Queen of common sense.” Her wit and “Bettyisms” were often on display in public meetings in the form of comments such as, “There’s a Jenny for every jackass.”

Olds, now 93, was instrumental in securing city funds to finance the first map of the Berkeley pathways. It was published by the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association and is now in its 6th edition, having sold more than 25,000 copies.

The Betty Olds path connects Sterling and Whitaker avenues. It was previously known as Twain Path — #68 according to the Berkeley Path Wanderers’ Association which currently lists a total of 136 paths in the city.

Colleen Neff contributed to this report.

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Book details secret staircases of Berkeley and Oakland (07.22.11)
Berkeley’s 100th pathway open for foot traffic (07.19.10)

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