Beams Funeral Home


Betty Ann James

October 10, 1933November 21, 2020
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Betty Ann James, age 87, of Coldwater, Michigan, passed away on Saturday, November 21, 2020, at Northern Lakes Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Angola, Indiana.

In 2007, Betty wrote, "If anyone asks how I want to be remembered, please say the following about me: I lived a good life and now I'm ready to be with Jesus, my dear Savior."

Betty was born on October 10, 1933 in Deadwood, South Dakota. Her parents were Alfred Duke and Alberta “Tina” (David) Winters.

She received a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University and a Master's Degree from Michigan State University.

Betty taught 3rd grade at Bronson Elementary School for 26 years, and retired in 1993. Teaching was more than a job to her. She put so much love and dedication into working with the children she taught and she treated each one as though they were part of her family.

She married William R. James on July 26, 1952 in Denver, Colorado.

After retirement Betty and Bill enjoyed spending winters in Tavares, Florida, going on many cruises and vacationing in Hawaii and Mexico.

Betty was a Cub Scout den mother, belonged to the Red Hats and was proud to have been 'Queen Mum'. She painted, quilted, loved making scrapbooks, gardened, was an incredible cook, enjoyed reading and making porcelain dolls, but she loved most spending time with her friends and family, especially her grandchildren.

Survivors include her husband, William R. James of Coldwater, Michigan, sons, Dennis (Cindy) James of Coldwater, Michigan, and William A. (Jeanine) James of Coldwater, Michigan, daughter-in-law, Kayane James of Big Timber, Montana, seven grandchildren, Julie, Kevin, Brian, Nick, Will, Tristan and Braden, and nine great-grandchildren, Aaron, Delaney, Alex, Brooke, Brennen, Chase, Emily, Gibson and Piper. She is also survived by special family friends, Ronald Barkley and his children, Matthew and Elizabeth.

She was preceded in death by her parents, a son, Bruce C. James, and four siblings, Marguerite, George, Alan and James.

Due to the Pandemic private services will be held. Rev. Jon Bruney will officiate the service.

Burial will follow at Knauss Cemetery, Kinderhook Township, Michigan.

A Public Celebration of Betty’s life will be held July 4, 2021.

The family would like to extend special thanks to all of the staff at Northern Lakes Nursing Home in Angola and Heartland Hospice for their love and care of Betty over the last two years.

Memorial donations in her memory may be directed to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or to Compassion International.


  • St. Jude's Children Hospital
  • Compassion International


  • Private Funeral Service


Betty Ann James

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mary Vanderpool

November 25, 2020

Betty was a very dedicated third grade teacher at Bronson Community Schools. We both hired in together in 1972. We team taught together along with Barb Anglin. Betty had a lot of talents and was fun to be with. She had a beautiful collection of dolls. She loved to entertain and invited us to her home for Mary Kay makeup products. Betty will be missed . She was a special lady. My thoughts and prayers to her family whom she was proud of and loved much.

Vonda Fry-Evans

November 25, 2020

She was my 3rd grade teacher at Ryan's. I remember her for her kindness and patience she had with her students. She would always let students skip recess to stay in her room and color, draw on the board, play games, etc. Very sweet lady! RIP Heaven has gained a true angel.

Carol Stroh

November 24, 2020

I am so blessed to have met Betty and her husband Bill at Northern Lakes Nursing Home. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Clarice Ross

November 24, 2020

I had Mrs. James in 3rd grade in 1988. I believe she had us memorize the States and Capitals and the Presidents of the United States. I got reacquainted with Mrs. James when I worked at Meijer Pharmacy about 15 years ago. We talked about her as a teacher and myself being in her classroom. She was a great lady and I'm glad we had the pleasure of talking as adults. She will be missed.

Angela Salesman

November 24, 2020

Mrs. James was my 3rd grade teacher and such a wonderful teacher! I learned how to memorize very well from her. She had us remember so many poems and she would take us back to her table for our turn, while everyone was hoping they actually could remember the whole thing😊
She told us stories of her camping with her husband and a bear coming to their campsite. She had such a wonderful laugh as did we after hearing the story!!
She was such a fun teacher yet taught us so well!!! I have never found another teacher quite like her !!!

Larry Hinsdale

November 23, 2020

We were so blessed to know Betty, she was so kind and caring. And when we visited her and Bill In fl. She gave my lady Ruth a special doll from her collection. You will be sadly missed. PRAYERS LARRY HINSDALE & RUTH McBRIDE.

Tim Hampton

November 23, 2020

I'm sorry to hear of the passing of your mother but I am thankful that she is completely healed and experiencing the Presence of the Lord as she dwells in the House of the Lord forever!
Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers during this time.

Tim Hampton

John and Peggy Barkley

November 23, 2020

The James are long time family friends with many memories. The years go by so quickly. Betty will be missed. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Cindy James

November 22, 2020

Betty was such a special lady. She would call me and say Cindy James this is Betty James and giggle. She made me feel so welcome to the James family and to Betty family was everything. She was always interested in what was going on in your life and wanted to hear all about it. Betty loved crafts and she would love it when I would show her something I was making. I loved watching the Waltons with her and she would tell the characters what
They needed to do. Betty will be missed!

Dennis James

November 22, 2020

Mom was such a caring woman. She loved everyone she met, especially our family and every single student she taught.

An advent Bible reader, and she would always read the King James Version.

I didn’t get to choose my mom, but after a lifetime, given the choice of every mom on the planet, I would choose...Betty Ann James.



Betty was born on October 10, 1933 to Daniel James Terrel and Anna Simon Terrel, on Green Street in Lead, South Dakota, three miles from the town of Deadwood. The same year, her father Daniel died, falling through the ice while ice fishing. Later Anna married Cyrus Alan Townsley. They had four children together, George T., who died at nine months, Marguerite, who also died as an infant, Alan C., born December 15, 1939 and James H., born June 11, 1942. Anna and Cyrus eventually divorced and Betty's brothers were taken to live with their father. Betty never saw them again as a child and many years later, when they were both adults with families, her brother Jim was able to locate her and they were reunited. Their brother Alan passed away before Betty could find him. While a teenager, Betty spent time in foster care and for a while lived in an orphanage. In 1949 she was adopted by Alfred Duke Winters and Albertine David Winters in Denver, Colorado.

Betty attended schools in South Dakota and Colorado. She graduated from South High School in Denver with honors in 1952. At the age of 32 she began attending college classes at Eastern Michigan University. She graduated from Western Michigan University in June of 1972 with a Bachelor's Degree in Early Elementary Education. Later she attended Michigan State University where she received a Master's Degree. Betty taught 3rd grade at Ryan Elementary School in Bronson, Michigan for 22 years and was a substitute teacher for 4 years before that. Teaching was more than a job to her. She put so much love and dedication into working with the children she taught and she treated each one as though they were part of her family. She retired in June 1993.

On June 26, 1952 Betty married the love of her life, William Rogers James at Christ Methodist Church in Denver. At this time Bill was in the Air Force. The two met while Betty was still in high school. She was working as a waitress in a coffee shop and some of Bill's Air Force buddies brought him in for coffee when he had imbibed a little too much. Bill came back a different day to apologize to her for his behavior when they first met. Betty used to laugh and say that she was the only girl in her senior class with an engagement ring.

After their marriage, the couple was sent to Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was there that their first child, Bruce Clyde James, was born on December 12, 1953. When Bill was discharged, the family moved to Riverview, Michigan to be near Bill's family. They bought a three bedroom brick house where they lived until 1969. Dennis Rogers James was welcomed into the family on February 2, 1955 and William Alfred James (Billy) was born October 11, 1959. In 1969 the family moved to Coldwater, Michigan because of Bill's work. They lived for a couple of years in Ebyview before moving to the farm in Kinderhook, where Bill still resides.

When the boys were small, Bill bought a tent and camping gear, and the family spent many happy years vacationing in Michigan and other states. They also enjoyed boating and canoeing. When the boys were young, Bill was their Boy Scout leader in Riverview troop#1661. Betty was a Cub Scout den mother for six years.

Betty accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior at an early age. Knowing that God was always with her, gave her a greater strength to cope with life in her many years on earth. Betty was baptized in Butte, Montana, at Peace German Lutheran Church on February 16, 1947 and was confirmed in Christ Methodist Church in Denver in May 1951. She joined the Riverview Methodist Church, was a Sunday School teacher and summer Bible school teacher for several years. In 1993 she joined the California Corners Presbyterian Church. In later years she attended Lockwood Community Church in Coldwater, Michigan and Lake Square Presbyterian Church in Leesburg, Florida.

The joy of her life has been loving and doing things with her grandchildren, Julie, Kevin, Brian, Nick, Will, Tristan and Braden. She was also blessed to have great-grandchildren to love, Aaron, Delaney, Alex, Brooke, Brennen, Chase, Emily, Gibson and Piper.

Betty joined the American Business Women's Association of Branch County, was president in 1976 and received the Woman of the Year award in 1977. She was a member of the Riverview Garden Club and served as president in 1964. After the family moved to Coldwater, Betty joined the Coldwater Garden Club in 1970 and in 1977 became a member of the Branch County Historical Society and the Quincy Rebekahs.. In February of 2003 she joined the Purple Imperial Red Hat Society of Tavares, Florida. She was proud of the community work she did with this organization and of being 'Queen Mum' in 2005.

Bill and Betty enjoyed life, traveling to many locations with close friends. They went to Germany in 1976, staying with the Whithoff family and then were happy to welcome that family into their home as visitors in subsequent years. They went on over 15 cruises, many with their dear friends Milt and Helen Crassweller. Bill and Betty traveled to many states and spent their 50th anniversary in Hawaii. A favorite vacation for the couple was visiting many of Michigan's lighthouses with their good friends from Windsor, Canada, Roger and Georgia Goulet. After retirement, Bill and Betty spent many winters in Florida and made many dear long time friends. Betty also traveled on many bus trips and visited Mexico with her friend Bea Runson.

For many years, a trip out west to visit Betty's parents was part of every summer's plans. They always stopped in Omaha to spend a few days with her brother Jim, his wife Kaye and their family. Being able to spend time with her brother after so many years apart was one of Betty's biggest blessings in life.

Betty had many hobbies. She loved good music, attending concerts and ballet, sewing quilts, needlework, and oil painting. Reading and owning books were a thrill for her. For many years she made porcelain dolls from antique molds and sewed clothing for them, an interest shared with her good friend Heather Meisch. At one time she had almost one hundred beautiful dolls. In the later part of her life Betty's favorite hobby was making scrapbooks and she made many for all the members of her family.

One of Betty's great passions was flowers and gardening. She would plant flowers in beds, pots or anything else that would hold them. She was always happy to have the help of family friend Ronald Barkley, who would help her buy the flats, haul dirt, plant flowers, trim shrubs, put out lawn decorations or anything else she needed done and then spend time chatting with him over lunch.

Betty said that their home was made more beautiful by their sons. She loved the trees planted at different times by Bruce and Billy, blue spruce, redbud, maple trees and dogwood and the blue bird feeders Billy built and put on poles around the property. She was proud of Dennis' photography and displayed it on the walls of their home.

When gladiolas were in bloom each year, Betty looked forward to the time when Bill would drive over to a farm stand and buy her several bunches. There had been baskets of white glads on the altar at their wedding and gladiolas became their special flower.

Betty never knew a stranger and made friends everywhere she went. Community and family were so important to her and she worked hard to make others feel welcome and important. She loved planning parties and picnics and outings for friends and family and was never happier than when her house or yard was full of people.

In 2007, Betty wrote, "If anyone asks how I want to be remembered, please say the following about me: I lived a good life and now I'm ready to be with Jesus, my dear Savior."

*Adapted from Betty's own writing about herself from 2007*

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