Betty Lou Simonsen, the youngest child of Virgil and Geraldine (Ridgley) Williams, was born March 12, 1933, on the family farm in Greeley Township, Audubon County, near Exira, Iowa. She passed away at her home in Branson, Missouri, on October 31, 2019, at the age of 86 years.
Betty Lou was baptized at the Federated Church in Exira. She attended Rural School Greeley #8 and graduated from the Exira High School as her class co-valedictorian in 1951. She was selected to Iowa Girls’ State in 1950.
On June 10, 1951, she was united in marriage at the Williams farm home with her high school sweetheart, Jack Alan Simonsen. To this union were born two sons: Jerry Alan and Brad Lee. The family moved to Audubon, Iowa, in the early 1950s and remained there until 1960. At that time, they moved to Denison, Iowa, where they lived until 1995; Jack and Betty then moved to Branson following retirement. Jack and Betty enjoyed a loving 64-year marriage.
Betty was an accomplished and devoted homemaker who also supported Jack’s rise through the Ford dealership ranks and then in running his business for 15 years; the Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Denison. She learned to do “guy stuff” like tent camping, hiking, motorcycling, and snowmobiling to enjoy time with her men. She also enjoyed cooking up the fish and game when the boys returned to camp.
Betty enjoyed volunteering in her children’s school, scouting, and sporting activities; she served as a Cub Scout Den Mother for more than eight years. She also served in numerous capacities at the Crawford County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, and she was elected member and Chairperson of the hospital board.
She and Jack enjoyed golfing together and traveling. They seldom took a trip in the car without their golf clubs. They even golfed in Alaska and Hawaii. They visited all 50 states, all but one Canadian border province, and six European nations. On the motorcycle, they motored through 20 states and three Canadian provinces.
Betty’s value system placed love of God, family, and nation above all other things. She was a Christian servant who practiced her faith on a daily basis. She and her three sisters remained best friends throughout their lives, and she was devoted to her children and their families. Betty rejoiced in the successes of her sons Jerry and Brad. Jack and Betty were great supporters of the U.S. military, since they had numerous family members who served, including a son, three grandsons, her brother, nephews, and a brother-in-law. The Iraq War was very personal for Betty since one or the other of her grandsons was servicing in Iraq or the Middle East for nine years. She was overjoyed each time they returned safely home.
One of Betty Lou’s most cherished gifts was time spent with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Anytime they came to Branson, she lit up as they enjoyed all the activities Branson has to offer, especially go-karting and minigolf. She also relished every opportunity to travel to visit the kids anytime she could.
Preceding her in death was her beloved husband, Jack; her youngest son, Brad; her parents/ Virgil and Geraldine, and in-laws Sam and Mary Simonsen; her siblings Fletcher, Maxine and husband Carroll Rusie, Mona and husband James Mackay, LaVonne and husband Harold Littlefield; daughter-in-law Linda (Henningsen) Simonsen; and nephew Leslie Mackey.
Survivors include her son Jerry Simonsen of Lenexa, Kansas; daughter-in-law, Nancy Simonsen of Manilla, Iowa; grandchildren Jennifer and husband Bill Woods of Lufkin, Texas; Tracy Simonsen of Manilla, Iowa; JJ and wife Piper Simonsen of Edmond, Oklahoma; Bill and wife Sheila Simonsen of Manilla, Iowa; and Jeff and wife Tiffany Simonsen of North Liberty, Iowa; her eight great-grandchildren; two aunts, nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
The family will meet with friends Friday, November 8, 2019, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Kessler Funeral Home in Exira, Iowa. Funeral services will be conducted by Pastor Kathy Kluis on Saturday, November 9, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. at Kessler Funeral Home in Exira, Iowa. Interment will be in the Exira Cemetery.