Judge Betty Vitousek Collection

Finding Aid

Scope of the Collection

This collection contains awards, photos, documents and plaques chronicling Honorable Judge Betty Vitousek’s accomplishments and accolades as a pioneer of  the Family Court system in Hawaiʻi.  There are also publications on the development of the family court system, as well as laws specific to children and youth. 

See the Box & Shelf List for more detail on the items in this collection.

Physical Description

Some of the items are kept within a box. Other items are oversized and kept on the “Vitousek shelf” in Intensive Storage. Some of the glass picture frames encasing the  documents have been cracked due to transport and handling, but the document itself is undamaged. 

Access Restrictions

Please see the Access page for more information.

Chronological Biography

1919 - Betty Belle Morrison was born in Wenatchee, Washington. She attended the Lewis and Clark High School.

1940 - Betty Morrison graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Washington 

  • She was a delegate to the American Student Conference in Japan. She met Roy Vitousek of Honolulu.
  • Served in the American Red Cross During World War II

1945 - Betty Morrison marries Roy Vitousek.

1948 - Betty and Roy Vitousek graduate from Stanford University Law School

  • Early in her career, Judge Betty Vitousek specialized in adoptions.  
  • She conducted research to form the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i.  
  • Served as National President of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • Delegate to the White House Conference on Children
  • Board member of National Court of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

1970 - Gov. John A. Burns appointed Judge Vitousek to Family Court of the First Circuit. She was the only active female judge in the state, although there had been female judges previously. 

1977 - Judge Vitousek was named Senior Administrative Judge of the Family Court. She oversaw judicial services and programs, formulated policies and procedures to address legal issues regarding families and children.  She created a model for family courts across the country. 

1984 - Judge Vitousek Received the Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers Distinguished Service Award.

1987 - Received the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Distinguished Service Award

1988- Judge Vitousek retired from Family Court in 1988

1992 - Judge Vitousek received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the University of Hawaiʻi

1994 - Husband Roy Vitousek passed away

1995 - Judge Vitousek received Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers Lifetime Achievement Award

2006 - First two attorneys were appointed as Vitousek-King Fellows in honor of Hon. Betty Vitousek and Hon. Samuel King, both pioneers in Hawaiʻiʻs Family Court system. This Fellowship was established at the William S. Richardson School of Law.

2008 - Honolulu was selected as one of eight sites nationwide to participate in the Zero to Three Court program educating courts on the science of early childhood development and advocating for children in foster care in Hawai’i.

2017 - Judge Vitousek passed away at age 98. Her children are Peter (Pamela Matson) and Roy (Sharon) Vitousek III, and by daugher Kelly (Frederic Manke) Vitousek. She has six grandchildren: Maren (Michal Niemack) Vitousek; Sean (Sylvia), Michael (Katie), and Malia Vitousek; Michael and Liana Vitousek. She has five great-granddaughters: Linnea Elizabeth Niemack, Juliana Leleua Niemack, Rainey Jane Vitousek, Carol Belle Vitousek, and Meigold Maria Vitousek. She has 13 nieces and nephews.

Other Accomplishments

  • First Executive Director of the Hawai’i State Bar Association
  • Passed legislation to establish Family Courts in Hawai’i with Judges Gerald Corbett and Samuel King; Hawai’i was the second state to do so.
  • Volunteered for the Supreme Court’s Appellate Mediation Program 
  • Advocated for Mediation in partnership with Neighborhood Justice Center for Mediation for divorce cases and to consider the needs of the children. Eventually this became the “Kids First” program.
  • Volunteered for the Chief Justice’s Judicial Performance Review Panel 

Accolades & Reflections on Judge Vitousek

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald stated: “From encouraging mediation to developing programs to help families cope with the impacts of divorce, she was an innovator who cared deeply about Hawaii’s children and families. Her many other contributions to our community included laying the groundwork for what became the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi. She also served as a mentor to countless lawyers and judges."   Recktenwald wrote a proclamation to Betty M. Vitousek.

Judge R. Mark Browning, Chief Judge of the First Circuit and previously the Senior Family Court Judge stated:  “As a jurist and as a person, she personified grace and wisdom. I and many others will miss her. We are comforted by the fact that the values that she passed to us continue to be taught to a new generation of judges and lawyers. Her commitment to the children and the families of our state and to the community as a whole is a legacy that continues today.”

Judge Vitousek's son Randy stated: “My mother is the kindest human being... She did things for others with humility and believes that kindness is the greatest virtue you could ever have.”...“

Judge Vitousek's son Peter stated, "She was good at finding the good in people she disagreed with,” adding that she would do so in conversation. “She was not confrontational at all, but not a shrinking person. I don’t think she was doing it strategically. It was just who she was.”


“Hawaiiʻs first female judge of Family Court ‘personified grace and wisdom.’” Star Advertiser. Aug. 30, 2017. https://www.staradvertiser.com/2017/08/30/hawaii-news/hawaiis-first-family-court-judge-helped-found-legal-aid-society/ 

“Judge Betty Vitousek Leaves a Lasting Legacy.” Hawaiʻi State Judiciary. August 29, 2017. https://www.courts.state.hi.us/news_and_reports/featured_news/2017/08/judge-betty-vitousek-leaves-lasting-legacy 

“Judge Betty M. Vitousek,”  Family Placed Obituary.  Star Advertiser April 14, 2021 https://obits.staradvertiser.com/2017/11/08/judge-betty-m-vitousek/ 

“Judge Vitousek was the recipient of HWLʻs….” Hawaiʻi Women Lawyerʻs Facebook. August 29, 2017. https://m.facebook.com/hiwomenlawyers/posts/901745249994814 

“Vitousek-King Fellowships in Child Welfare Law.” Laurie A. Tochiki. William S. Richardson School of Law. 2021. https://www.law.hawaii.edu/familycourt/vitousek-king-fellowships-child-welfare-law