Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Severson passed away on Aug. 20, 2013, at Sapphire Suites in Billings, after a brief battle with cancer.
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On Christmas Day, 1934, Betty was delivered by her father in the family home in Culbertson. Betty was the middle child born to John "Ed" and Mary Bell Rucker.
The family moved to Wolf Point and later to Plentywood, where Betty attended school and graduated in 1952.
A music scholarship in voice took her to study at the University of Montana, where Betty was a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority. She was active in Mu Phi Music Honorary, Aquamaids, A cappella choir and Jubileers. She appeared in several opera and operettas, the highlight being "The Impresario" with the late Carroll O'Connor. Betty graduated with a degree in music education with a minor in voice and piano in 1956.
Betty met her husband Jon while at the university and, after their graduation, they were married on June 18, 1956. They moved to Billings, where she taught at Garfield School. In August of 1957, they moved to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where Jon attended military training. Their first son, Mark, was born a week after they arrived in San Antonio. In 1958, they moved back to Billings, and were blessed with a daughter (Shelly) and another son (Bill).
Betty bought her first piano in 1962 for $50, and began her teaching career. Betty taught hundreds of students over the span of 50 years. She could always remember what each of her students played in competitions. She taught until November 2012.
Throughout her career, she continued to study voice and piano at both MSU Billings and Rocky Mountain College. Betty taught music in grade school, high school and parochial school and summer class piano in grade school and adult class piano at MSUB. Betty was a member of the Montana Chorale, as well as the National Music Teachers Association and past president of the Billings branch of the Montana Music Teachers Association. Betty directed the adult choir at St. Pius X Church for several years and the adult choir at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral in Billings for nine years. A great memory was the choir singing "Happy Birthday" to Betty after Midnight Mass.
Betty was an accomplished pianist and vocalist. One of her greatest joys was playing and performing piano and organ duets with other musicians in the Billings community, especially Dr. Fred Binckes, Jeannie Icenogle and the late Sister Mary Depner.
Betty loved spending time with her family. She enjoyed many years of skiing at Red Lodge Mountain and camping and swimming at Flathead Lake. When Betty and Jon became "empty nesters," they spent several winters in Apache Junction, Ariz.
Betty delighted in spending time with her seven grandchildren and great-granddaughter. She rarely missed a music concert, award ceremony or athletic competition, and thought nothing of traveling hundreds of miles to watch them perform or compete.
Betty was a member of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, where she and her sister and best friend Rie served as Eucharistic ministers to the parish and residents in Valley Healthcare Center. She was a volunteer at St Vincent's Healthcare in the Pediatric Department and Surgery Plus. She enjoyed reading, yoga, aerobics and a glass of chardonnay at Happy Hour. In the summer, she loved planting flowers, going to the Farmers Market and Concerts in the Park. Those who knew Betty well knew that she loved her dachshunds. Over the course of her life, they brought much joy.
Betty was a beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and friend. She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Jon; her son, Mark (Karla); her daughter, Shelly (Don) Molen; son, Bill (Laurel); and grandchildren, Nichole McDonnell, Taylor and Abbey Severson, Christopher, Andrea and Samuel Molen and Will Severson; and great-grandchild Sophia McDonnell. She is also survived by her sisters, Mary Jean Sorte and Rie (Merle) Listoe, and many special nieces and nephews. Betty was preceded in death by her parents and sister Shirley Marshall.
The family would like to thank the Dr. Teff and the nursing staff at St. Vincent's Healthcare, Rocky Mountain Hospice and especially the nursing staff at Sapphire Suites for their compassion and excellent care.
Memorials in Betty's name may be made to the Ronald McDonald House or
Vigil services will be held on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 at 7 p.m., at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Memorial Mass will be on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at 10 a.m., at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, with interment at Calvary Cemetery.
Michelotti-Sawyers is assisting with arrangements and remembrances may be shared online at www.michelottisawyers.com.
Michelotti Sawyers Mortuary & Crematory
1001 Alderson Avenue Billings, MT 59102
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Aug. 25, 2013