Betty Jo Adamson passed away at age 82 in Ontario, Oregon on March 28, 2012.
Betty Jo was born August 2, 1929 in Billings, Montana to John Calvin and Marjory Louise (Thorpe) Williamson, the 5th of 8 children and the first one of them to be born at a hospital, though not in the maternity ward; she wouldn't wait and was born in the elevator.
When Jo was about 7 years old, she was crossing a street carrying her baby sister who was about 18 months old, and stepped into the street from behind a parked truck. She was hit by a car, and although there were no broken bones for either of them, bruises took months to heal.
Jo attended grade school in Billings. On her first day of school, she had just 2-1/2 blocks to walk. She was the tallest child in the class, and the teacher tried to get her into the third grade classroom. The custodian had to bring a larger desk from the third grade class for her to use. By the fourth grade, some of the other children began to catch up. After she moved in the middle of the fourth grade (from a small house to a larger one), she was no longer the tallest student in her new class.
Despite getting decent grades, Jo did not enjoy school, but did graduate in 1947 from Billings High School. The school rules were strict and the classrooms were very quiet. When teachers were talking, students were not even to be writing unless it was a lecture. There was no gum allowed on school grounds. When walking between classes, students were to be in line without talking or waving to friends.
One of Jo's favorite childhood memories was of going camping with her family. Her parents and siblings would pile into the car to go into the mountains, and her dad left them to camp all week while he returned to work. They camped under the stars in bedrolls. Most of the people she knew did not own tents for camping. Jo stepped on a broken bottle at the beginning of one camping trip, and spent the remainder of the week with her foot bound in rags.
Jo's family did not experience the tragedies that many others did during World War II. Jo's brother, Ed, was a drill sergeant stationed in Texas, and her brother Cal was scheduled to go to Europe for the D-day attack, but tripped and broke his leg.
In the fall of 1947, Jo enrolled in Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho in nursing, but was told she could not be a nurse due to a heart murmur. She took only general classes thereafter and left school after the first year.
While at NNC, Ralph Adamson noticed a pretty girl across the room during Chapel. He was interested and kept looking, and he says she cornered him with a vial of sulfuric acid during chemistry class. He left college after her first semester (his second) to attend a technical school. They wrote many letters that winter and became engaged. Ralph mailed her diamond engagement ring from Chicago. After he returned with his father to Nampa to get his fiance, they drove to Billings, Montana where Jo & Ralph were married on June 13, 1948 at the Billings First Church of the Nazarene by Pastor McQuay.
They settled in Nampa and rented for a while until they bought a one room house in town where they had their first two daughters, Kay & Marie. They moved several more times and had two more daughters, Carol & Darlene. During that time they also lost three sons which greatly upset Jo. Jo, Ralph and their children moved to a house in the country outside Nampa, where they had their fifth daughter, Stella. In early August 1959, the family moved into a new house which Ralph helped build, because the old green one-bedroom house was not big enough for the sixth child which was on the way. The doctor told Jo she could help move the family's possessions, even the furniture, as long as she did not try to move something like a piano on her own. The sixth daughter, Linda, was born shortly after the move into the new house. A seventh daughter, Billie Jo, was delivered stillborn, and due to complications the family almost lost their mother. All of Jo's children were delivered in the Good Samaritan Hospital in Nampa.
Jo worked hard to raise her family, jumping in to do what was necessary and seldom complaining. To make ends meet and feed everyone, she made and mended clothing, helped tend a large garden, and helped take care of a menagerie of animals including chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs and cows, as well as pet cats, dogs, guinea pigs, a pony and a horse.
She was an excellent cook. She would make many loaves of bread which were devoured rapidly when the girls returned from school. Jo had to hide a loaf or two for making sandwiches for Ralph and the girls' lunches. As she worked in the kitchen, the girls would bring her books to read. Their favorite stories and poems were recited from memory.
One of her favorite sayings was "it's six to one and half a dozen to the other," whenever one of the girls would complain. She didn't let on that she worried too much about the girls when they were out playing all day or when they climbed to the top of the tall swaying trees. They just had to let her know when they were back to the house.
Jo's mother passed away on January 9, 1960. Her father married Ruth E. Brickman on September 9, 1961. Ruth legally adopted Jo and her siblings on October 25, 1967.
She and Ralph took their children on many outings, sometimes spontaneously. On short notice, Jo could put together a picnic lunch out of whatever was available.
After the girls were older, Jo worked for a short time in the kitchen of the Nampa Christian school, and volunteered at the Fairview and Bethel Nazarene churches and the More For Less thrift shop in Nampa.
Jo took her first plane ride in 1970 when she returned to Montana for her brother Ed's funeral. She saw the wrecked private airplane, which killed him and his wife Fern, near the runway as she landed at the Billings airport.
After the girls left home, Jo started calling weekly to check up on them and share family news. She faithfully sent cards and letters for family and friends' birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions until her illness progressed.
Jo was a gracious and loving host to her family, taking in a sister-in-law when she attended Northwest Nazarene College, and a grandchild when he attended Boise State University. She also housed and fed her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews during life transitions. She was always delighted to have her children, grandchildren, other relatives and friends visit, though often those visits were too short.
When their house became too large and the stairs too hard to negotiate, Ralph and Jo sold their home in Nampa and moved to New Plymouth in 2001. They then began attending the Payette Nazarene Church. Together they volunteered at the New Plymouth Senior Center until her health deteriorated. Jo lovingly required hugs and freely gave back rubs. She enjoyed quilting, crosswords, word puzzles, table games with family, knitting and crocheting. She made quilts, blankets and clothes for all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
She is survived by Ralph, her husband of 63 years, brothers Cal and Harry (Merle), and sisters Lois Williamson, Jean Taylor and June (Jerald) Thiessen, brother-in-law Arlie Childs, and her six daughters, Kay (Stu) Parvin, Marie (Bill) Cates, Carol (Larry) Lass, Darlene (Jim) Keebaugh, Stella (Stephen) Goll, and Linda (Jim) Opdahl.
Michael Parvin, John Parvin
Michelle (Todd) Rosenberger, Angie (Maggie) Cates, Scott (Diana) Cates, Jeff Cates
Sarah (Jeff) Harper, Delaina (Jeremy) Richmond
William Keebaugh, Alicia Keebaugh, Emily Robson, Charles Keebaugh
Sondra (James) Knaus, Stacy Goll
Andrea Hickman, Kristen Hickman, Stan (Kaitlyn) Opdahl, Ryan Opdahl, Kyle Opdahl
Jessica & William Rosenberger, Christopher & Shayla Cates, Ciera & Nicholas Cates
Isaac, Kael & Austin Richmond
Sarah & Joseph Knaus
Grace & Ryann Opdahl
and many other relatives and friends.
Jo was preceded in death by 4 babies (3 sons – unnamed & 1 daughter – Billie Jo), her parents, brother Edward and his wife Fern Williamson, and sister Marjory Childs, a son-in-law, sisters-in-law, a nephew, Joe Childs, and other relatives and friends.