Duets: Betsy Peak and Lisa Marie Borchert

  • Article by: GAIL ROSENBLUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 31, 2013 - 7:54 AM
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JIM GEHRZ • Star Tribune Friends Betsy Peak (left) and Lisa Marie Borchert volunteer as ushers at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis.

Betsy Peak’s husband of 47 years died six years ago, just as Lisa Marie Borchert was planning a vacation to London.

Come along, Lisa Marie suggested. Betsy graciously declined — her passport had expired, the timing felt off — but she was touched that a friend would be so thoughtful. It was even sweeter considering that her friend is 30 years her junior.

“We do not think of ourselves as mother and daughter,” says Betsy, who met Lisa Marie in 1996 when they worked for the same Twin Cities events planning company. “Maybe this will encourage other people to reach out to those they would not usually see as a fit. She has made my life so much richer.”

Lisa Marie, of northeast Minneapolis, grew up in the country near St. Peter, Minn. Betsy, of Edina, was raised in Louisville, Ky. “It was pretty instant,” Betsy says of their friendship. “Lisa Marie walked up and said, ‘I like your sweater.’ I thought, really?”

Betsy laughs. “That was the opening.”

They ate lunch together nearly every day for four years, until Lisa Marie took a new job. But their friendship never faltered. Together, they’ve volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, formed a book club, traveled to Hawaii and Chicago, watched “Project Runway” and fed their mutual love of indie films. Lisa Marie took Betsy to the DIFFA fashion show featuring men in drag (“I had a ball,” Betsy says) and taught her friend to text.

“I told her this will be a benefit down the line with her granddaughter,” Lisa Marie says. “The generational difference,” she adds, “is kind of like the good without the history.”

The two women just began their 11th year of ushering together at the Jungle Theater. “I hand out the programs and tell them, ‘You may take in your beverage,’ ” Lisa Marie says.

Betsy jumps in. “And I say, ‘Enjoy the show!’ ”

Every year, Betsy channels her Southern roots and throws a Derby party. Last year, Lisa Marie couldn’t make it, so she sent the man she was dating instead. Betsy liked him a lot.

“He has the nicest brown eyes I’ve ever seen,” she said. “Would you have told me the truth if you didn’t like him?” Lisa Marie asks. “Probably not,” Betsy agrees, then they burst out laughing.

Lisa Marie married last December on the winter solstice. Betsy was an honored guest, of course, but Lisa Marie had to break it to her longtime friend that she was “too tall” to be the flower girl.

“Both of our lives have changed so much,” Betsy marvels. “Lisa Marie has a new life, a new husband. I think it’s remarkable that we’re still making it work. And I know that if I end up in a home, she’ll come visit.”

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  • Project: Duets

    Friday August 29, 2014

    “Duets” is an occasional feature that celebrates unique relationships between two people -- in words by Gail Rosenblum and pictures by Jim Gehrz.

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