Betty J. Gray, 73, passed away Jan. 4, 2022, at Houston House nursing home in Houston, Mo., after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who will always be remembered for her adventurous, caring and compassionate heart. Her nurturing spirit was all encompassing. It took in troubled teenage boys, tarantulas accidentally unearthed in the winter, baby possums and deer who had lost their mommas, to dying plants on the clearance rack at stores. With her love, they would flourish. Her heart and home was always open and welcoming.
Betty was born in Fresno, Calif., to Lowell and Helen Rust. Her adventurous spirit, caring heart and love of nature took roots as a child on her family’s farm near Laton, Calif., and, later, the ocean and beaches around Morro Bay and along the California coast where she loved to go hiking and scuba diving. She was more at home out of doors than in and, much to her mother and sister’s dismay, had a penchant of befriending wild critters and crawly things which might find a home in her clothing pockets or her sister Sheron’s bed.
Betty married Richard A. Gray on April 23, 1966. Their adventure started when they were just kids and lasted for over 60 years. He was originally from Pennsylvania but had moved to Saratoga, Calif., with his family when he was 14. She was just a neighborhood kid he met when he was visiting family on the coast. They built a friendship and love that brought them four daughters, 14 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. It would see them through many adventures, adversities, and moves that took them from one coast to another and lots of places in between. For Betty, home was where her family was. At times that was in Morro Bay, Calif., the Texas panhandle, northern Nevada, Pennsylvania, southern Missouri and Arizona.
Betty, also known as B.J., leaves behind a legacy of family who will always hold her in their hearts. Her husband, Richard, currently of Houston, Mo.; her oldest daughter Tanya and son-in-law Tom Smith of Cabool, Mo.; their four children, Shane, Katrina (Jentschura), Tanara, Carson; their grandchildren Heston and Theodore Jentschura; daughter, Shannah and son-in-law Jim Armstrong of Ottumwa, Iowa; their four children, Leilah, James, Cloe and Clinton; daughter Starrissa and son-in-law Matt Ballenger of Carthage, Mo.; Starr’s children, Ashley (Worley), Dustin Honeyfield and Matthew Ballenger, and her grandchildren, Kaylee, Jessie, Brian, Asher, Grayson, Oakley, Oliver, and Rett; daughter, Corlona and son-in-law, Capt. Phillip Metcalf of Woodland Park, Colo.; their children, Cheranda (Byard), Kira and Kolina; their grandchildren, Marissia and Myles. Betty is also survived by her sister, Sheron Bridges, of Los Osos, Calif., and step-sister, Phyllis Saville of Berryville, Va.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents; her step-mother, Norma; and her brother, Glen.
Per her wishes, she was cremated and her ashes will remain with her husband until once again they can be together.
A memorial service will be planned for in June. In lieu of cards or flowers, the family ask that donations be made in Betty’s name to a local charity of choice that helps with animals in need.
Arrangements were under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home of Cabool, Mo. Online condolences may be made at www.egcfuneralhome.com.