Betty Lou Smith
February 27, 1925 - May 14, 2018
Betty Smith passed away during the early morning of May 14, 2018. Betty was born in Salida, Colorado, on February 27, 1925, to Frank and Blanche Albright. Betty’s siblings were much older and had left the house by the time she was a little girl. Betty was like an “only child” and, as Betty exclaimed recently, “That little one gets what that little one wants!” Betty had many adventures at the family home including the time she fell in the irrigation ditch and nearly drowned. She would thereafter have an aversion of having her face in the water. She was quite inquisitive as a youngster which included sticking her head up to a bee hive to see what was going on in there! Her exasperated father, who worked behind the home at his brick plant, smeared mud all over her body, gathered her up, and promptly walked up to the house placing the little one at her mother’s feet while expressing, “Here, you take care of her!”
During high school, Betty immersed herself in music and had a starring role as Mrs. Cripps (“Little Buttercup”) in the comic opera, H.M.S. Pinafore. During winters she ran the warming hut at the family-operated ice-skating pond below the house. Betty graduated from Salida High School in 1943. She briefly attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She returned to Colorado and entered nurses training at St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado. But having patients pass away was too emotionally difficult for Betty, so she returned to work at the flower shop in Salida.
Betty lacked a bit of direction until Shayle Webster Smith returned from the service in 1946. Their love then blossomed. Shayle attended Denver University on the G.I. Bill while Betty lived in Salida. After dating for a period of time and maintaining a long-distance relationship, the couple married one weekend in September, 1949, without their families’ knowledge. They continued to keep the secret for many months but were eventually found out when they sheepishly explained to a family friend who was visiting Denver over a weekend that they had indeed married and were not merely living together.
As Shayle’s career progressed as a radio and television announcer, Betty lived in Tucumcari, New Mexico, Amarillo, Texas, and Wichita, Kansas. She had four (4) boys through the marriage. Betty was active in the Presbyterian Women and served such roles as President with the PTA. Betty and Shayle divorced in 1974. Betty would never have another romantic relationship and felt the pain of the break up for the rest of her life.
During the mid-1970’s, Betty entered a career of social work. She was employed with St. Francis Hospital as a volunteer coordinator, Senior Services, Inc., as a Meals on Wheels Director, and the United Way as a program director while she lived in Wichita. In 1981, Betty moved to Bellevue, Washington. She worked with the American Cancer Society in Seattle and then Jewish Family Service in Bellevue. Betty received the Best of Bellevue Diversity Award in 2000 for her work with refugees assimilating into the community.
Betty moved to Wenatchee in 2001 to be closer to family. She attended for a period and then joined the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in 2004. Betty was active with her interests in Missions, Latino Ministries, and the children. Betty had many ideas for the Children’s Ministry and kept the staff at FUMC quite busy with her frequent phone calls. Although her body had begun to fail her, Betty continued to be quite sharp, mentally. Tracy Faulkner Carlson affectionately commented to family members that she welcomed Betty’s calls as she was one “to think outside the box!”
Betty worked for a short period as a para-professional for the Wenatchee School District. She had a desire to remain employed but, as the years passed, employers were a bit reluctant to hire her. Instead, Betty applied herself as a childcare-providing Grandma and assisted with the growth of her local grandchildren. Betty relished trips to see her other grandchildren and was so excited when her out-of-state grandchildren came to visit her. She volunteered assisting children’s learning at local schools. Betty also was active in local politics while she was able and was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year for the Chelan County Democrats in 2006.
A hip fracture slowed Betty down in January of 2016. She was able to reside at her condominium with the assistance of family and caregivers. The family is especially appreciative of her last caregiver, Jovie Smith, who served Betty from the beginning of Betty’s diagnosis of heart failure in April, 2017, to Betty’s passing.
Betty is survived by three (3) sons: Kevin of Waterville; Kenneth of Ft. Collins, Colorado; and Stewart (Amy) of East Wenatchee. She is also survived by her eight (8) loving grandchildren—Thea, Julian, Vera, Christopher, Sarah, Parker, Dorian, and Peyton. Betty’s oldest son, Michael Rick Smith, passed away in 2006. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Seattle Children’s Hospital.