Obituary for Nov. 11, 2013

By Baker City Herald November 11, 2013 10:12 am

Betty Bennett

Richland, 1936-2013

Betty Jo Bennett, 77, of Richland, died Oct. 29, 2013, among family members at her home.

There will be a celebration of Betty’s life and a memorial service at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Richland Christian Church. Friends are invited to join the family for a potluck reception after the service at the Richland Christian Church.

Betty was born on May 11, 1936, at Carnage, Okla., to Theodore and Ova Stevens. She moved to Imperial Beach, Calif., in 1941. Betty enjoyed her high school years on the pom-pom squad and spending time with her sister, Retha, and her best friend (and cousin), Shirley Dively.

She married Jimmy Kenyon -and had her two beloved daughters, Anna and Sharie. After her marriage ended in the late 1950s, she and her girls remained in Southern California.

In 1965, Betty met and married George N. Purcell and moved to Sebastapol, Calif. In 1977, they moved to Richland. It was in Richland that Betty and George began their foster parenting program and their Grade “A” dairy. 

Their foster family would eventually grow to help 30 children over the course of the next decade and was recognized as the State of Oregon’s Foster Family of the Year. 

George died in 1980, but Betty continued their dairy farming and foster parenting program. She married Lovell Bennett in the late 1980s and purchased the Shorthorn Bar & Cafe. 

During this time Betty, working with Vonnie Bennett, organized and developed the first rural volunteer fire department in Richland. After Lovell’s death in 2004, Betty decided to sell the ranch and café and move to “town.”

In 2006, Betty began to travel. She journeyed to 14 countries, 47 states, and enjoyed nine beautiful cruises with her family and friends. In 2012, Betty’s lifelong best friend, Shirley, became her roommate. Shirley was a great comfort to Betty during her final battle with cancer. 

Betty made new friends wherever she went, sharing both her wonderful sense of humor and her spirit of adventure, family members said. She loved traveling, playing cards, and dancing. 

She spent as much time as she could with her family and all of her grandchildren.

“Betty had a way of making each one feel like ‘the favorite.’ ” they said. “She will be dearly missed.”

Survivors include her sister, Retha Allensworth; her daughters, Anna Steenhard and Sharie (Bill) Andrade; stepchildren, Victoria Carnahan, Teresa Alvarez, George Purcell Jr. and Roxanne Cooper; her dearest friend and cousin, Shirley Divley; 14 loving grandchildren and 21 loving great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Theodore and Ova Stevens; her husbands, George Purcell and Lovell Bennett; her granddaughter, Danielle Andrade; her brother-in-law, George Allensworth; and her son-in-law, Daryl Steenhard.

Memorial contributions may be made to  St. Jude Children’s Hospital through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.