May 6, 1926 – October 4, 2019
Betty Land Gaines passed away peacefully in her home in Midland, Texas, on October 4, 2019.
Betty Gaines was born in Ada, Oklahoma, on May 6, 1926, to Harry Vallee and Ruby Irene Gay Land. A six weeks later, she moved with her family to Wichita Falls, Texas, the place she would call home.
Betty attended Wichita Falls high school, the home of the Coyotes. While growing up, her father would take her to see all the home games. During one game, it began to rain. They covered themselves with a plastic sheet and stayed. The players stayed and played, but the band left. After three quarters they peeked out from under the sheet to find they were the only ones left in the stands. They decided to go home. Thus, began Betty’s affection for sports.
After graduation, she attended the University of Texas, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and a Master of Arts degree in English. While in school, she participated in and directed many plays. At the university, Betty met her husband, Bob Gaines on a blind date. A year later they got married on June 4, 1949.
That same year Betty and Bob moved to Elgin, Texas where Betty began her teaching career. At the elementary school where she taught, she became aware of an injustice to the six-year-old children that could not speak English. They had to sit in first grade until they knew enough English to advance. With the help of a Spanish professor and the Texas Legislature she developed a program to teach English and the first-grade curriculum. This program became what we now call bilingual education, something unknown of back in 1950. To test the program, Betty was given a class of 37 Spanish and Swedish children who knew less than ten English words. They were successful.
In 1951 Betty and Bob moved to Midland, Texas. They lived in a small apartment before building a home on East Oak Street where their first son, Robert Vallee, was born.
In 1956 the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska. During their time in Omaha, they added two more children to the family, Richard Spear and Gayanne.
While in Omaha, Betty continued teaching, first as a substitute teacher, then on as permanent staff. Betty had been brought up as a Methodist but changed to Presbyterian with her husband, which she found funny because the two places where she taught were the Omaha Catholic School for Girls and the Omaha Hebrew Academy.
Betty’s love of watching sports extended to her children. She never missed one of their ball games or concerts when they were in the band. Her children grew up knowing she would always be there cheering them on. She was also a big fan of the Midland Bulldogs and held season football tickets for over fifty years.
In Omaha, Betty learned the art of decorative candle making from a neighbor. This skill proved beneficial when she learned that Bob’s company wanted bids on Christmas centerpieces for their Christmas party. Betty assembled a centerpiece and submitted a bid. She didn’t expect to win because she was competing against many of the professional florists in town, but she did win. She then organized all members of the family into an assembly line and made the 100 plus centerpieces. She bought the family’s first color television with the profits. She was proud of that.
In 1970 the family was transferred back to Midland, Texas.
Once back in Midland, Betty wanted to continue teaching. The brand-new Midland College quickly hired her in 1970. The college was so new it didn’t have a campus or any buildings. They held classes at Midland High School or other venues. Eventually, they built a very nice campus where Betty taught speech, psychology and child growth and development. Many professions required this last class. And who else would she use as examples of child growth and development but her own kids. This fact caused a lot of surprises for her children, when friends, who had taken the class, knew family stories.
While at the college Betty decided to get her doctorate degree. She continued teaching and at the same time went to school at Texas Tech University. After many years of commuting back and forth and some intense study, she graduated with a Doctorate Degree in 1985. Her children were amazed at her accomplishment and her tenacity. Betty moved up to become the Assistant Head of the Behavioral Science Department at Midland College. She taught there for over twenty years until she retired in August 1991. She also founded the Howell Watkins – Betty Gaines Scholarship Fund.
Betty was an organizer and enjoyed in later life planning and organizing hers and her husband's fiftieth and sixty-fifth wedding anniversaries and the Shriner’s Potentate Inaugural Ball for her husband, Bob.
Betty loved to ballroom dance with her handsome husband, Bob, and they could be seen dancing as members of the Ballroom Dance Club. Now they are dancing together again.
Betty was an active member and held the office of president for many years of the local P. E. O. Club, a philanthropic organization, where women celebrate the advancement of women and raises money for college tuitions for women.
Betty was a member and held numerous offices with St. Andrews and Trinity Presbyterian churches in Midland and First Presbyterian Church in Omaha. She was a founding member of the Trinity Bell Choir as well as a member of the First Presbyterian Bell Choir in Omaha. Betty was also a member of Grace Presbyterian Church. Betty was a founder of the St. Andrews Mission and Clinic.
Betty is preceded in death by her parents, Harry Vallee and Ruby Irene Gay Land, by her older brother Gay Land, by her husband Robert Byron Gaines Jr. and by her youngest son, Richard Spear Gaines.
She is survived by her oldest son Robert Vallee Gaines, wife Edellweiss; her daughter Gayanne Bett and husband Tom; their three children Sarah, Tommy, and Rachel Bett.
Graveside services will be at Resthaven Memorial Cemetery on Wednesday October 9, 2019 at 1 PM. Memorial Services will be at Grace Presbyterian Church in Midland, Texas on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 3 PM with a reception following at the church.
The family of Betty Gaines would like to extend their warmest thanks to Mary Howell and Joetta Thompson, her companion caregiver for the last two years, and the other care takers of Delicate Caregivers for the compassionate and thoughtful care they gave to their mom during these difficult times.
If you wish to honor Betty with a donation the following organizations were close to her heart:
Make donations to: Chapter GD PEO 4820 Rosewood Drive Midland,Texas 79707
- Graveside Service Wednesday, October 9, 2019
- Memorial Service Wednesday, October 9, 2019