Betty was born in Shanghai in 1928 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1948. Her family and she experienced the China of wealth and privilege prior to war with Japan, civil war and revolution, and Communism. Her father, Zhou Junshi, was a prominent scientist and scholar in China who studied under Albert Einstein in Europe during the early 1900's. While a student in Europe, her father became friends with Zhe De, the founder of the Red Army. In 1949, while Betty was attending college in Kentucky, her father died in China as a political prisoner, and Betty had to start a new life as an immigrant in the U.S.