Lifelong Alaskan and longtime Valdez resident Betty Jean (Buzby) Wells, 91, passed away Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at Wickersham House in Wasilla.
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A celebration of Betty's life will be announced in the spring. Betty will be laid to rest next to her husband, Max, at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.
Betty was born April 14, 1921, to Jayson Grant and Mary Isabel (Croucher) Buzby in Fairbanks. She spent three childhood years in Manley Hot Springs and graduated from Fairbanks High School in 1938. She also attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Max and Betty were married Jan. 28, 1940, in Fairbanks. They spent their honeymoon attending Fur Rondy traveling by train to Anchorage. They were married for 67 years. Mom had a quiet strength and faith that carried her through many difficult times including the 1964 earthquake. She and Dad lost many friends but also their home and place of business. Betty lived in Tillamook, Ore., but most of her adult years, 1952-2012, were spent in Valdez. Betty was a teacher at the Growden-Harrison Elementary School in Valdez for eight years.
She was a member of the Oasis Christian Center in Valdez, and the Pioneers of Alaska, Ladies Auxiliary Women's Igloo No. 2. Betty was Mother of the Year in Valdez as well as State of Alaska Mother of the Year in 1964. She enjoyed time with family, embroidery, oil painting, gardening, puzzles, traveling and music. Kids, grandkids and great-grandkids always knew the cookie jar was full at Grandma's house. She was the epitome of Alaskan hospitality.
Better known to many as "Grandma Bino," Mom was much loved and respected not only by her family but also by friends, neighbors and former students. After Dad's retirement, they traveled worldwide. Mom's favorite trip was to Australia because it was so "unique."
In Egypt, Dad turned down an offer of five camels for his "Dolly." Mom was proud to be a granddaughter of Alaska Pioneer Harry Elton Buzby, who came to Alaska as a gold miner in 1898. Mom's story in her own words appeared in the Anchorage Daily News, March 2, 2003, under Alaskana "Shaken Up" by Sharon Bushell.
"Today is so bittersweet. We had to say goodbye to the gentlest soul I've ever known. Grandma left this aching world to spend eternity in heaven," wrote granddaughter Shannon Wells Major.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Barbara Boyle and Esther Redhead; brothers, George G. and Ronald H. Buzby; husband, Max H. Wells; and son, Theodore M. Wells.
She is survived by her daughters, Lynn Bellezza and Mary Wegner, of Anchorage; Jean Sutton, of Clarkston, Wash., Grace Brayton, of Juneau, and Laura Lappies, of Eagle River; sons, Jason C. Wells, of Wasilla, and David R. Wells, of Valdez; 24 grandchildren, and 33 great-grandchildren; sister, Robyn McFetridge, of North Pole; brother, Samuel L. Buzby, of Newman Lake, Wash.; aunt, Mildred "Tiny" Buzby (97 years old), of Wasilla; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Full Gospel Church, P.O. Box 873060, Wasilla, AK 99687.
Arrangements were entrusted to the Anchorage Funeral Home. Please visit Betty's obituary and online guestbook at www.Alaskan Funeral.com.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Mar. 6, 2013