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NYSNYS NEWS: At funeral service, pioneering Albany journalist Betty Flood Morrow remembered for help she gave to efforts to fight poverty in Albany.
By Kyle Hughes

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (December 20) -- In a funeral Mass that drew family, friends, and past and present state officials, pioneering woman journalist Betty Flood Morrow was remembered Tuesday for the vital help she gave to Catholic ministries in Albany's South End in the 1960s.

Rev. Peter Young told mourners at St. Pius X Church, including state Comptroller Thomas B. DiNapoli, that she helped open doors for him in the Legislature more than 50 years ago when he was trying to line up political support for social programs to help the poor. The efforts eventually grew into Peter Young Housing, Industries and Treatment, which ministers to the homeless, people with addictions, prisoners, veterans and others in need in the Capital Region. The program also operates housing for the homeless in Brooklyn.

"It's an amazing kind of dedication she gave to those causes, to try to help people to be a better person and to lead other people as Lydia did in the Scriptures," Young said.

In the New Testament, Lydia was a well-off and independent woman merchant who sold purple cloth and dyes that were highly sought after by emperors, high officials and pre-Christian priests. She was baptized by St. Paul in what is now Macedonia as he spread the Gospel among the gentiles; by most traditions, Lydia is the first convert to Christianity in Europe.

Young said Lydia helped open doors to help St. Paul in the first century after Jesus's death, building a power base for the church to spread the word. "When I think of (Lydia) I think of our dear friend Betty," he said.

He said Morrow got the ball rolling one day when she motioned to him to stop by her office outside the Capitol pressroom. "I said 'I've got a (homeless) shelter now Betty and I don't know where to go and what to do to help them.' She said, 'I know what to do -- let me give you a few things to do.' " He said her introductions to legislators were invaluable in helping the program grow.

The two knew each other from their school days in Albany in the late 1940s.

By the early 1960s, Morrow was "the queen of the third floor" where the legislative chambers are located. She had the connections and insider know-how that helped him immensely when negotiating the corridors of power in Albany, Young said.

"She's the kind of woman that you don't find very often," he said. "I call her the prophetic individual because she could spot things and see the things that needed to be done and then try to find a way to help to help to identify and solve them... she knew what to do and how to do it.

Morrow, a Loudonville resident, died December 14 at age 83 in Albany, ending a journalism career that begin in the 1950s when few women were given jobs in the profession. She owned Cuyler News Service.

At Cuyler, Young said she was a mentor to "Betty's girls" -- the young women who worked in her office as her reporting assistants. She was a fixture in the Capitol as the longest tenured Albany journalist. She began by covering Gov. Averell Harriman in 1957 and continued to come to work at the Capitol pressroom until two weeks ago.

She covered the administrations of nine successive governors, including both Gov. Mario Cuomo and his son Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She worked as a reporter for years before women were permitted to become members of the Legislative Correspondents Association, primarily writing for financial and trade publications.

She was also one of the founders of the Women's Press Club of New York in 1966. The group advances the professional interests of women in the media and communications professions, and awards scholarships to aspiring women journalists. The club renamed its scholarship award to honor Flood a few years ago.

Morrow wrote for Women's Wear Daily, W, Palm Beach Society, the Daily Racing Form, Reuters, the Insurance Advocate, and Empire State Report. She also chronicled the Saratoga social scene in August and made many lifelong friendships as a result. She was a patron of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and helped restore Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany. In recent years she was an antiques dealer on the side, selling collectibles in a shop in Ballston Spa.