Betty Jo (Elizabeth) Atkins died at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital on November 17, 2012.
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When the family was asked what Betty Jo's occupation had been, the first thing that came to mind was "caregiver." She was mother and friend to so many people in the Gallatin Valley.
Betty Jo (Elizabeth) Kiefer was born on February 20, 1924 to William and Elizabeth Kiefer at the home of Aunt Minnie and Uncle John Kiefer in Bozeman near Montana State University. At 3 years old she moved with her parents to the Fort Ellis community to live with her mother's parents and lived there until her marriage. She went to the Fort Ellis School, was a member of the Fort Ellis Girl's 4-H Club and had two pinto horses, Queen and Cappie. Growing up, she helped the family cook for the threshing crew. She then worked for Montgomery Wards, Woolworth and on her parent's farm until she was married. Then she worked for the Bozeman School District as a cook and server until her retirement.
She attended Holy Rosary School in Bozeman and graduated in 1941. She married Orba Neal Atkins in February of 1946. Their daughter Linda Mae was born on May 24, 1947. Neal passed away in June of 1947. She then married Robert J. Atkins on November 21, 1948. Their son Robert Neal was born on August 18, 1949. Bob and Betty Jo lived on her folks' farm and then moved to a farm west of Belgrade. From there they moved to West Durston where they lived until they both passed away. She was a member of the Fort Ellis Women's Club for many years, a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters for over 50 years and served as a minister to the sick for several years. She also supported her son Bobby by joining the Associates of the Vietnam Veterans of America and helped with many of their fundraisers (the veterans called her the "cookie lady").
In her later years her focus was an unfailing and loving care of her family and friends, a fierce dedication to Holy Rosary Parish, and through her church and faith performed communion, visitations and simple yet heartfelt acts of extending a helping hand, making a phone call or sending a card to lift spirits.
When she became ill herself in 2010 the family then rallied around her until she decided it was time to rejoin family and friends in Heaven. We'll miss her smile, her open door policy, the invitations to dinner and the evenings with a mean game of Canasta.
Survivors include: her son Robert Neal Atkins (Mary) of Bozeman; grandchildren Scot Kemp of Madison, Wis. and Sherrie Lynn Lindbo (Durrand); her great grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Magan and Evan of Helena; her sister, Sister Rachel Kiefer of Lynnwood, Wash.; brother William H. Kiefer (Diane) of Springfield, Ore.; and his two daughters, Lori and Debbie. She also had numerous nieces and nephews. She was especially close to her niece, Kate Noyes, son-in-law Michael Wright and adopted son Ron Eldridge. She was preceded in death by: her two husbands, Neal and Robert; daughter, Linda Mae Wright; and parents William and Elizabeth Kiefer. She also never forgot two brothers who died at birth.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 25, 2012