Obituary: Betty Norma Wells Wilson
February 23, 2021
Betty Wilson passed away peacefully at 97 in her home in New Castle, CO on February 23rd, 2021.
She was born Betty Norma Wells on Christmas Day 1923 in Keokuk IA, to Gladys HealeyWells (a beauty salon owner) and Bert Wells (a professional baseball scout). The extended families of these parents and those of her husband were her touchstone relationships throughout her life.
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Betty grew up in tough times in small town Oklahoma and Kansas during the dustbowl depression 30’s that cemented her sense of life values. She was taught compassion for her fellow man, what’s right, and the value of work by example when her grandmother regularly invited a hobo from the nearby train yards to a home cooked meal at their table after an afternoon of chores.
As a young lady, Betty graduated from Woodward High School, was a Rodeo Queen, and attended the University of Oklahoma. She moved to Kansas City at the beginning of WWII, working at a flower shop in the Plaza, and met Jack Wilson, a young gunnery officer in the Army Air Corps. Jack and Betty tied the knot with a marriage that lasted more than 65 years until his passing at 95. Betty was a devoted wife and his sacrificing caregiver in his last hard years.
After the war, her growing family moved west from Missouri and settled in Boulder CO for the health of her children. Animosity to Japanese was still strong there in the 50’s. Betty found a family doctor who lived 4 blocks away, but had been a Flight Surgeon in the Imperial Navy. When her last child was to be born, the hospital refused to allow him to be her attending physician. Betty thought that was flat wrong, stood up to them, and by her efforts, her doctor gained attending credentials at the hospital.
In her life, Betty mothered three children who grew up in her love and guidance. As a parent, Betty nurtured and raised her children through times both difficult and joyous. She asked only for honesty, a kind heart, and your best try. She encouraged, comforted, applauded the efforts of her children, and glowed in their accomplishments. If it all fell down, she was the first to help you pick up the pieces. Her trust was given when earned and defended if questioned by any.
Her direct family legacy includes her 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 8 great
Betty was deeply interested in her family history and Genealogy was a passion for her. She explored and computerized her family tree. She had her DNA tested and discovered more than 600 near and distant relatives. Her discovery of new relatives and the ongoing conversations with them was a joy for Betty.
Betty was a quiet child of God and led her life simply. She grew up a Baptist, attending services locally, and lived as a loving and caring example of faith.
Betty was a pioneer of professional women working in the community in the 60’s. She became an Administrator for the English Dept at the University of Colorado, managing programs for faculty, students, and organizing events like The Writer’s Conference. Betty was asked to join the new National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder to administer the programs (and wrangle the scientists) that were the basic research for todays climate science. Betty retired from NCAR and moved with Jack to the mountain home he built in New Castle.
Betty enjoyed travel, from her early cross-country train trips as a child with Healeys, a European tour with Jack, and her favorite trip to Ireland where she visited and connected with her Irish roots and heritage. In their retirement together, Jack and Betty traveled the country by motorhome visiting family and participating in reunions of Jack’s Air Force Bomb Group.
Betty’s later life in New Castle was nurtured by the blessing of so many close friends and neighbors, social groups like Eastern Star, and her church activities.
At 87 and after Jack’s passing, Betty renewed her goal to live her best life, stay in the home he built, and be active in her community. Saying ‘getting old isn’t for sissies,’ Betty lived fully independent and later transitioned to part time caregiving with the help of her children, grandchildren, and the amazing support of her friends and neighbors. She embraced computers so she could stay active and communicate, constantly emailing with friends and family and maintaining an active Facebook account. As her personal needs grew, she sought full time professional caregivers who she loved as family. Her hard work, sensible frugality, and a life of saving allowed her to live without worry and customize her environment to support her safely staying in her own home.
Betty passed away peacefully, in her own home, in the embrace of her loving caregiver. A Lady loved by all, hers was a life not only well-lived, but one of grace, caring for others, and full of laughter.
A Celebration of Life for Betty Wilson will take place at 11 am on August 28, 2021 at New Hope Church in New Castle, CO. Friends and family are invited to attend. The family requests that attendees please wear masks for their safety.
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