Elizabeth Louise "Betty Lou" Lewis

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May 27, 1943 -- January 30, 2013

Elizabeth Louise, known to her friends as Betty Lou, passed away quietly at home with family at her bedside after a 7-month struggle with cancer.

The daughter of Major and Mrs. William J. Mitchell (USAF), Betty Lou spent her early years in far-flung places, from occupied Japan to Washington, D.C. By 1956, her family had settled in Santa Barbara where she attended Our Lady of Sorrows Elementary School and Marymount High School from which she graduated in 1961 as class valedictorian.

As a student at Marymount College of Palos Verdes in 1962, she met her future husband, Dennis. After graduation, they were married in January 1966 at the Santa Barbara Mission Church. That began a wonderful marriage of 47 years, which included the births of three loving children: Steve in 1967, Brian in 1969, and Susan in 1973.

In 1981, with her three "little birds" scrambling out of the nest, Betty Lou returned to college to earn a teaching credential. Subsequently, she worked for 10 years as a kindergarten teacher at Our Redeemer School in Oxnard.

With her husband's retirement from public school education in 2004, Betty Lou and Dennis returned to Santa Barbara where she became involved in a web of activities at Trinity Lutheran Church. Organization and record keeping were her forte, where she served as secretary of three church organizations: the Church Council, the Membership Committee and the Altar Guild. She also co-managed the Saturday morning S.A.L.T. Food Pantry.

In her quiet way, Betty Lou supported a wide array of social justice, environmental, and women's rights causes with both her time and resources. She was an avid reader, and visitors to her home enjoyed scanning the variety of enticing titles in her library. Betty Lou was also an aspiring quilter who dreamed of the stunning quilts she planned to make.

Her true joy, however, was her grandchildren. There was no greater fun for her than matching wits with her three grandsons in Albuquerque in various board games. She also greatly enjoyed attending their choral performances with the Albuquerque Boy Choir.

Betty Lou is survived by her husband, Dennis; her sister, Patricia; her three children: Steve (Jessica), Brian (Keiko), and Susan (Carey); and her four grandchildren (Joshua, Zachary, Adam and Erica). She will be remembered for her thoughtful and gentle ways, for her quiet courage as she struggled with illness, and for her gracious manners and friendly smile.

A celebration of Betty Lou's life will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Santa Barbara at 11:00 on Saturday, February 9. A light lunch will follow in the church's Fellowship Hall.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be directed to support the Albuquerque Boy Choir (www.abqboychoir.org), in which her grandsons sing.

Published in The Santa Barbara News-Press Online Edition from Feb. 5 to Feb. 9, 2013