Betty Showers (1922-2022) began college at 46 then earned a master's degree too


Betty Russell Showers, wife of the late Denzil James Showers, was an artist, school librarian, community volunteer, and erudite mother of seven children. Betty died on March 22, 2022, three months short of her 100th birthday, having kept her love of life, her humor, and her strong sense of justice intact throughout her life.

Betty June Russell, daughter of Hilda (Russell) Lovejoy (née Klepper) and Clifford Norman Russell (Ironton, MO) was born on July 1, 1922. Her father was descended from Rebecca Pease and Cyrus Russell who settled in 1838 in Ironton, MO. Her mother's parents were Wilhelmina Knueppel, a German immigrant, and Henry Klepper (Frankfort, IL).

Betty lost her father to tuberculosis when she was four, and two years later gained a new loving father, Andrew Curtis Lovejoy. She grew up in Roscoe, Illinois. Her Russell siblings, Norman (Bill), David, Shirley Clifford, and Geneva Graham, and brother Newell Lovejoy preceded her in death.

As a child, Betty treasured summers with her cousin, sister and brother on her aunt's farm near Bourbon, MO. She rode horses and spread mischief with her sister Shirley. Betty graduated at the top of her class at Hononegah High School, Rockton, Illinois. Although she received a college scholarship, attending college was still unaffordable.

Though her formal education was interrupted, Betty read widely and kept learning throughout her life. She and Denzil raised their seven children on five acres in northern Illinois, where they boarded horses and had a huge garden, goats, a cow, chickens, and dogs. She read to her children every night and took them to hear orchestras in Beloit and Rockford and to visit Chicago's museums.

At the age of 46, Betty was finally able to go to college, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Beloit College, and completing a Masters degree from the University of Wisconsin. She went on to serve for two decades as middle and high school librarian for the Beloit Turner school district, where she also taught students and teachers the basics of computer programming on the 'modern' Apple II.

Betty was an active community volunteer and leader, as a 4-H Club leader, member and moderator at First Congregational Church in Beloit, as "Picture Lady" introducing art and stories to children at Prairie Hill School, and member of Beloit's East End Club. An accomplished painter, she earned awards at regional and statewide art competitions.

Betty never let dementia change her loving and gracious manner or conquer her strong sense of independence and love of life. The family is deeply appreciative of the loving care she received at Sienna Meadows in Oregon, Wisconsin and from St. Croix Hospice staff.

Betty was predeceased by her husband and daughter Suzanne. She leaves six children Linda (Daniel) Clark, Christine (Larry) Deyss, Kathleen (Michael) Stringer, Michael Showers, Patrice (Howard) Corneli, Denzil Curtis (Karen Van Sleet) Showers, 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, who continue celebrating her long, loving, widely scattered Showers family.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Betty Showers to the Beloit Public Library or Beloit Meals on Wheels would be welcome.

Memorial service for Betty Showers will be held at First Congregational Community Church in Roscoe, Illinois on July 27, 2022, followed by interment at Roscoe Cemetery. The time is yet to be decided. Arrangements have been made with Informed Choice Funeral & Cremation Alternatives in Madison.

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