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1/4/2014 3:17:00 PM
After 60 years married, husband and wife die within hours of other
Betty and Jim Gimarelli
Betty and Jim Gimarelli
Clarice Keating
Of the Catholic Sentinel

After a marriage that lasted nearly 60 years, Betty and Jim Gimarelli didn’t have to spend one day without the other. The Portland Catholics died on the same day, Dec. 20, within hours of each other.

Betty was 81 and Jim was 86.

Both were being treated at Providence Portland Medical Center – Betty for late-stage lung cancer and Jim for a terminal brain tumor.

A remembrance Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, at St. Ignatius Church, where the couple often attended services. A reception will follow at the Benson Hotel’s Crystal Room.

Betty was born Sept. 14, 1932, to Edgar and Nellie Woods and was raised in Garden City, Mo. Jim was born Nov. 12, 1927, in Portland to Vincenzo and Grace Gimarelli. They were married in 1954.

Jim served first as a bellman at the old Multnomah Hotel, followed by a 35-year stint as bellman, bell captain and concierge at the Benson Hotel. He was the first concierge in Portland and one of the founding members of Les Clefs d'Or USA, the international association of concierges.

In the late 1990s, Jim served as campaign chairman of a 4,500-square-foot school expansion at Our Lady of Sorrows School, raising $835,000 in cash and pledges. The school later closed in 2007.

After their children were grown, Betty worked as executive director of the Metropolitan Business Association in the late-1970s and early-1980s before buying the gift shop at the Hilton Hotel, naming it Christopher's after her grandson. In 1988, Betty founded the Ornament Division of Christopher's, Inc., as the Artist-Designer of The Portland Ornament and, five years later, of The Seattle Ornament.

They are survived by their children, Sue (Brad) Harris and Jim Jr. (Bebe) Gimarelli; three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; Jim's sister Josephine Granato; and Betty's siblings, Robert Woods and Virginia Hogue.

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