Betty Lee Garrison went home to be with her Lord Jesus on April 2, 2013, at the age of 87. Her battle with pancreatic cancer ended, and her new life in Heaven began with perfect eyesight and perfect hearing and no more pain. Thank you, Lord!
Betty was born in 1925 on a sugar beet farm in Pompeys Pillar, Mont., to John and Vera Chappell. She was second to the oldest of six children. Growing up during the Depression she met with hardship early in her life when at the age of 9 her mother woke up paralyzed from polio. Vera would never walk again. Hardship became a frequent visitor throughout her life, but that never dimmed Betty’s resilience, her fierce loyalty to family and friends, her joyful spirit or loving relationship with the Lord. When she was 19 years old, she received Christ into her life as her Lord and Savior at a small Nazarene church in Pompeys Pillar.
After graduating from Huntley Project High School, she took secretarial classes in Nampa, Idaho, and then moved to Great Falls to attend nursing school. She met Lloyd Oertli in Townsend, Mont., while visiting her sister there. They were married in 1949. To that union were born three children, Sandy, Jerry and Jane. In 1959, Lloyd was killed in an accident while repairing a high powered electrical line.
In the fall of 1959 Betty and her three children moved to Missoula, where she attended the University of Montana and got her degree in home economics. They moved to Hot Springs, Mont., where she became the home economics teacher at Hot Springs High School. During her time there she met Miles Garrison, who was the coach and history teacher. She married him the summer of 1963. She became a stay-at-home mom to two more children, Brad and Valerie. They remained in Hot Springs where Miles was the principal of the high school until the summer of 1971, when they moved to Spokane, where Miles, Sandy, Jerry and Jane all attended Whitworth College.
After Miles got his master’s degree in education administration, they moved to Cle Elum, Wash., where he was high school principal at Cle Elum/Roslyn High School for five years.
In 1977, they moved back to Eureka, where they built a home on the ranch owned by Miles’ parents, Homer and Louise Garrison. Miles became the high school principal at LCHS and remained there for eight years.
In 1986, because of their adventurous spirit, they accepted a position at Palmer Community Christian School in Wasilla, Alaska. They had numerous other positions in Alaska, including being resident supervisors at Kenai Peninsula Community Care Center and houseparents to developmentally disabled adults at Arca House in Anchorage. That position opened the doors for them to become foster parents to numerous children within Eureka and Lincoln County upon their return to the Tobacco Valley and their home on Burma Road north of Eureka in 1992, where they remain today.
Betty was very active in her church, First Baptist in Eureka. Her smiling face was there to greet visitors and long-time members alike. She could be found most often in the church’s kitchen preparing meals – helping whenever and wherever she could. She also loved raising a beautiful garden full of fresh vegetables and raspberries. She was well-known for her beautiful dahlias with which she made many gorgeous arrangements for the church and the nursing home. She also loved quilting, and she made a quilt for each one of her children, and her home has quilts as artwork on the walls.
She was preceded in death by two brothers, John and Harold Chappell and one sister, Virginia Novotny.
She is survived by her husband, Miles, and her five children, Sandy Oertli of Eureka, Jerry Oertli of Billings, Jane Fairfield of Gillette, Wyo., Brad Garrison of Portland, Ore., and Val Garrison, also of Portland; two sisters, Margie Brown of Billings and Lois Leggett of Mills, Wyo.; eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Services were Monday, April 8, 2013, at the First Baptist Church in Eureka. Memorials may be made in Betty’s name to the First Baptist Church Diaconate Fund for Special Needs, PO Box 391, Eureka, Montana 59917.
Arrangements are by Schnackenberg & Nelson Funeral Home in Eureka.