Betty McRill

  • "I'm sure you're back in Alaska somewhere, Mom. You were as..."
    - Valerie Samson
  • - Mike & Eleanor Burbank

Betty McRill, 81, died June 9 in Newport, Wash., after a lengthy illness.

A summer reunion will honor her life.

Born on the family farm near Nebraska City, Neb., to Herman A. and Stella (Fischer-Burbank) Lueck, she joined Mary Elizabeth and brothers Clyde and Charles Burbank. During the Depression, the family moved several times, settling in Twin Falls, Idaho, where she graduated from high school in 1946.

She married John R. "Jack" McRill in Twin Falls in 1947. Seven children followed; Valerie, (Samson) Tom, John Jr., Bob, Dave, Rich and a long-awaited second daughter, Mary Lynette. It was a lively household, best described as "loving chaos". Following Jack's sudden death in 1977, she moved to the Kalispell, Mont., area. She loved traveling and hiking and always persuaded someone to explore with her: on foot. Many remember being out-distanced by the tanned and fit "Mountain Goat."

Betty followed her two youngest to Alaska. It became her true home and she loved everything about it. She loved her profession as well. She was a bookkeeper and manager in Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

Still working at 75, she suffered a major stroke, recuperated in Pensacola, survived Hurricane Ivan, then moved to Phoenix with son, Rich, and family, and finally returned to Alaska. She lived with cherished friend, Henia Minium in Soldota before moving to Wasilla with daughter Mary and fiance, Walt Rice. In 2007, she came to River Mountain Village in Newport, Wash., and met Manfred "Freddy" Kanzler. They spent many hours together, a testament that love is ageless.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jack; son, Tom; and his son, Aaron Michael.

Survivors are her dear Freddy; sister, Mary Wilson, Newport, Wash.; her children in Newport and Deer Park, Wash., Clark Fork, Twin Falls and Kimberly, Idaho; and Phoenix; 14 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

The family is grateful for the loving attention given by all her caregivers, especially in Alaska, Carlyn Henry and Lennie Moren, and Newport's Long Term Care staff.

Sherman-Knapp Funeral Home and Crematory in Newport is in charge of arrangements. Please visit Betty's memorial at

Published in Anchorage Daily News from June 18 to June 19, 2010