Betty Ruth (Biddinger) Kirby, an active member of the Burlington community for many years, died Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 at age 91. |
Born on Feb. 23, 1922 on a farm northwest of Wray, Betty was the sixth child of Emma and Raymond Biddinger's eight children.
She was 13 years old when the Dust Bowl devastated their farm and prompted them to move to California where her two oldest brothers had moved to work at the C & H Sugar Factory in Crocket, Calif. She graduated John Swett High School in Crocket.
She returned to Wray in 1942 to help care for her ailing grandmother.
It was during this time that Rosalie Kirby Felzien introduced Betty to her brother, Edward Eugene (Gene) Kirby.
When Gene spotted Betty prior to their introduction, Gene claimed, "I'm going to marry that woman." Betty returned to California after their meeting and Gene eventually followed her there.
They married July 31, 1943 in the chapel at Camp Beale in Marysville, Calif., after he was drafted into the military to fight in World War II.
They moved to Camp Bowie in Texas, but prior to Gene's deployment to fight the war in Europe in 1944, he moved Betty back to Rodeo in the San Francisco Bay area to be near her family while he was away since Carolyn was on her way. Betty gave birth to Carolyn in Oakland, Calif.
After Gene was discharged from the Army in 1946, they moved back to Burlington where she eventually gave birth to Clifford, Shirley, and Charlene.
Betty and Gene became active members of the Nazarene Church in Burlington, and she worked a number of miscellaneous jobs around town.
They moved to Pasadena, Calif. in 1965 where she and Gene worked at Pasadena College, the Christian college Cliff was attending at the time.
Betty eventually left the college to work as a nurse's assistant in a convalescent hospital. In 1973 she returned to work for Pasadena College so that she could help Gene and a cadre of others move the college to San Diego.
She and Gene worked together at the newly named Point Loma College until their final return to Burlington in 1978.
Burlington was truly Betty's home, but she loved to "get up and go," and the "get up and go" in her led her to California to be with family and friends countless times, to Mexico, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, on a cruise to Alaska, where she danced the hula, and on a cruise to the Bahamas.
She loved God and God's creation demonstrated, in part, by her desire to be with other people, to participate in community events, and to volunteer.
She and Gene helped deliver meals, she served on the VFW Women's Auxiliary Board, Mc Arthur Senior Center Board, sewed quilts at the senior center, read to residents at the Legacy, facilitated bingo at Grace Manor, and more.
She made a quilt for each of her own children and embroidered quilt squares for each grandchild and great-grandchild.
She had a penchant for playing cards and board games and an uncanny way of emerging as the winner – no matter what game or with whom. She found delight in teasing others, telling jokes, and pulling pranks. She enjoyed life.
She is preceded in death by her husband Gene and her daughter, Shirley.
She is survived by one sister, Wynona Crum, who lives in Vallejo, Calif.; her oldest daughter, Carolyn Brazda, of Goodland, Kan.; her son, Cliff Kirby, currently in Honduras; her youngest daughter, Charlene Pate, of San Diego, Calif.; 10 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Gene's sisters Rosalie Felzien and Irene Kruger also survive her.
A celebration of Betty's life is planned for Oct. 26. In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the McArthur Senior Center if you would like to honor Betty's life with a gift.
Friends may go to www.lovefuneralhomes.com to sign the family's online register book and to leave an online condolence.
Services for Betty were entrusted to Love Funeral Home in Burlington.
Published in The Burlington Record on Sept. 26, 2013