Betty (Nora Elizabeth Biegler) Wilson, 76, left behind her earthly suffering and pain Jan. 17, 2013, surrounded by loving family after a long struggle with lung disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Betty was born to Art and Lucille Biegler, their firstborn, in Kalispell on Feb. 11, 1936, just after midnight, so for years she thought it was Feb. 10 and never completely accepted changing it.
She was later joined by siblings Claire (Workman), Chuck, Artie, Eddie and Hobbie, whom she loved beyond measure and remained devoted to for her entire life, the ultimate, “big sister,” giving, protective, and loyal.
Betty held dear her fond memories of community dances attended by the entire family and in particular of dancing German dances like the schottische with her dad and sister. The night before she died she talked about going to heaven and wearing golden slippers while she danced with her daddy again. She also loved the memories of their family time living at Warland and Kila.
Betty was slight but feisty and was known to have a bit of a quick temper, especially if her protective nature was engaged. She was taught to box by her Uncle Earl Otis and gained quite a reputation for being faster and having a more powerful punch than most kids, including the boys. All those traits combined led to Betty gaining a “healthy respect” from others in her communities.
Betty graduated from Flathead High School in 1955. She married Thomas Wilson on June 1, 1956, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Kalispell. They had four children: Betty Fay (Holder), Thomas Arthur, Alice Lucille (Letcher), and John Robert. They also raised their twin grandchildren Alan Daniel and Jessica Breanne Wilson after the death of son Tom. They lived in Kila, Eureka, and Libby until they settled permanently on Pinkham Creek.
Betty cooked in the school cafeteria for 32 years, specializing in fresh home-made bread, cookies and nutritious but tasty food. She also worked in several local restaurants over the years.
Betty was known for her generous, thoughtful, and loving heart. Through the years she touched countless lives because of the abundance of special gifts she showered on others for all the holidays, special occasions, and for non-occasions (special foods; that $20 received in the mail just when you were down to your last dime; that little household item you just mentioned in passing you could use; special clothing for a special day; something that made her think of you; a place to stay; rides; a hug; a smile; and a shoulder to cry on).
Many times Betty said if she could be half as good a mom as her own and half as good a grandma as her Grandma Otis she would consider her life a success. Her family thinks she did that and then some. Besides her own family members she became “mom,” “aunt,” and “grandma” to countless others throughout her life, spreading unconditional love and care as she went. She specialized in loving and supporting those that needed it most, often finding the “good” in those that others found it easy to overlook. In addition to Betty’s nurturing nature, she had a well developed (some might say overly developed) protective nature that any momma grizzly bear could have been proud of. If somebody made the mistake of criticizing or hurting one of her loved ones they would quickly learn that they had “crossed the line.”
Betty loved watching high school sports and spent many hours watching her sons, nephews, nieces, and grandkids in wrestling, rodeo, football, baseball, and basketball. She provided transportation to and from practice and the events for several so they could participate. It was a standing joke that people didn’t want to sit directly in front of her at a wrestling match because if they did they would probably get pounded on at least once during a meet. She was the cook for countless sporting event banquets.
Betty was fearless when it came to her grandchildren and she would take “the baker’s dozen” of them to the fair and carnival in Kalispell each year. Those trips created cherished memories for each of them. She swore they were always as “good as gold.” She and Tom also took the four youngest grandchildren on a road trip to Mount Rushmore when they were only in first and second grade. Again, according to Betty, they were “as good as gold.”
Betty was a lifetime member of the Lutheran Church.
Betty is survived by her mother, Lucille Biegler; husband Tom Wilson; children Betty and Stan Holder, Alice Letcher, and John and Jan Wilson; grandchildren Trinia Holder and Brad Miller, Amber (Letcher) and Jesse Llewellyn, Valida Holder and Sean Cranmer, Jodi (Wilson) and Gatlin Paine, Kristan Curtis, Mariah (Holder) and Leif Winterrowd, Artie Wilson, Joe Letcher, Jake Letcher, Alan Wilson, Jessica Wilson, Jose Letcher, and James Letcher; great grandchildren Josh and Reilly Llewellyn, Ayden Curtis, Shaelynn and Avriana Paine, and Heath Miller; siblings Claire and Harry Workman, Chuck Biegler, Artie Biegler, Ed and Dee Biegler, and Hobbie and Robin Biegler; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Betty was preceded in death by her father, Arthur Biegler, son Thomas Wilson, son-in-law James Letcher, grandson Thomas Robert Wilson, and great-grandson Justin William Llewellyn.
A memorial service for Betty will be held at the Lincoln County High School Auditorium, part of the school system she loved and was devoted to, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan 26, 2013. Immediately afterwards a meal provided by the Lutheran ladies will be served at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Eureka. At her request, Betty’s ashes will be spread on Lake Koocanusa so her body can be with son Tommy’s.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Tobacco Valley Food Pantry to continue Betty’s lifetime service of feeding others.
Special thanks to the caregivers and employees of Good Samaritan Society-Mountain View Manor for the love and kindness they have shown Betty and her family the last several months and especially during her last few hours.
Arrangements are by Schnackenberg & Nelson Funeral Home & Crematory of Eureka.