Betty Jo Peck
August 5, 1930 – November 24, 2018
Born in Oklahoma City August 5, 1930, Betty was the middle child of three daughters. She loved to do anything outside and tom-boyish. She was a natural nurturer: she would defend her shy older sister and take care of and boss her little sister. So from the very beginning, she developed a loyal and responsible nature that lasted a lifetime. She would tell stories about riding the big draft horse that would hold all 3 girls and 2 cousins: they thought it was thrilling as the patient giant would plod along. Her grandparents lived with them. The grandparents had made the run into Indian Territory when it opened for settlement and her grandfather was a sheriff in Indian Territory before Oklahoma became a state. She remembers her grandmother who was bedridden and the devoted care her grandfather gave her for years. That made a deep impression on Betty. She remembers as an older girl the sadness of the nation the day that President Roosevelt died and how a terrible tornado came through the town. It seemed appropriate to her because of Roosevelt’s death. As a 16-year-old girl, she fell in love with a handsome 19-year-old boy named Paul Peck. The two tried to curb their feelings by having Paul move to Rockford, Illinois to take a job and “test their love” to see if it could last. They couldn’t even last long enough to truly separate. He came home quickly from Rockford and they married in March before she had even graduated from high school. But Betty went on to graduate, and she did not drop out of school. They lived in bad conditions: “the walls gapped from the floor so that you could see the ground beneath…we would stuff newspaper between the walls and floor to keep the wind and bugs out…” They moved here and there, but stayed in the Oklahoma City area. She learned to make the fluffiest baking powder biscuits from an elderly lady who lived in an apartment next door – the lady would teach and let Betty practice till her biscuits would just melt in your mouth. Paul began making a better income and they had their first child, Steven Russell. Three years later, they had another son, Terry Michael. Finally they had their third, a little girl, Paula Jo. Their family was complete and although they had many hardships with Paul working long hours as a mechanic, they were very happy. Betty and Paul coached Little League baseball for both of their boys for several years. Betty kept score for the teams. They totally enjoyed raising their children. Betty was a good baseball player, a good shot with a rifle, and a great cook who could feed her growing brood, kept excellent house, and managed on a tight budget. She would beautifully sing with the radio (along with Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Doris Day) as she went about her housework. About 1967, Paul and Betty moved to Enid, a smaller town in northern Oklahoma. Betty worked as a teacher’s aid and began to love teaching. Earning a scholarship and using grants, Betty went through college in 2 ½ years carrying heavy course loads to get through fast. She would walk to and from the college much of the time, but she was on a mission and didn’t mind how hard it was. She graduated in 1971 – but the joy of overcoming that arduous challenge was crushed when her son Steve was killed in Vietnam in March before her graduation. She nearly did not take a job. But she was sought after for her finesse while doing her student teaching, and the hiring board came after her. She plunged into the teaching and was a diligent teacher for 19 years. She would have gone longer, but Paul had emphysema and she wanted to spend time with him after he retired. They had two years of retirement together and he died in 1992. They were married 46 years. All her years in Enid she plunged herself into serving others – nurturing and teaching elementary children, serving in Vacation Bible Schools, teaching ladies Bible groups, and pursuing more education during the summers off from school. Terry and his family were career Army and were continually moving. They visited and kept in constant touch with Paul and Betty, but the Army had the power to move them and take up a lot of their time. Rich and Paula had married in Enid and settled there or always lived close by in Oklahoma towns. They were near enough to be able to watch over Betty after she became a widow. But in 2000, Rich took a job in Florida, so they took the two girls (Joanna and Becky) and moved south. Betty could hold out only till 2004 and finally moved down to Holiday to live very close in the neighborhood to Rich and Paula. The family get-togethers were complete with Grandma again! Joanna and Becky had been very close to their Grandpa and Grandma and they were thrilled to get Grandma back into the family activities. In 2008, however, Betty’s health took a turn for the worse and she entered Sunshine Christian Homes as she struggled with many health issues. When her health progressed, she just decided to stay at Sunshine where she had made many friends and became integral to lots of activities: reading/drama group, Bingo, taking care of the library, crafts, and just about anything that she could get involved in. She lived at Sunshine for 9 ½ years very happily but with steadily declining health. Then in May 2018, her health took a deep turn for the worse and she began to succumb to kidney, heart, respiratory, and other issues. She moved to Braybrook ALF and went into hospice care. On Saturday, November 24, she began experiencing labored breathing about 3 AM. The nurse called Paula at 3:15; Betty refused to go to the hospital. Paula talked to Betty to say “if it is time, just go on, Mother. Don’t worry. We will be with you soon. But just go ahead and go on. Don’t struggle.” The nurse said she began to relax her breathing. Before Paula and Rich could get in the car, the phone rang again, and Betty had passed on. She repeatedly looked forward to finally getting to be with her Lord. She talked of it nearly every time a visitor came or a nurse helped her – her focus was getting there. Now she is there, home with Jesus. Glory to God for His love to Betty – a good and faithful servant. Betty will be laid to rest next to her husband in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.
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Betty Jo Peck
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