NEAL, Betty Jo|
With sadness we must announce the passing of a sweet Texas lady who was a patient teacher, good friend, and loving mother. Betty Jo (Wright) (Newton) Neal was born on February 3, 1930 in Anton, Texas and finished her life on May 4, 2014 in Austin, Texas after a brief illness. She was happiest when fussing over her grandkids or reading a book from the library. She loved crispy tacos, fried okra, and the hamburger steak at Threadgill's restaurant. Her inner grit was overlaid with a blanket of kindness and praise for every child she met.
Betty was the second child of Henry Olive and Mary Jo (Van Dyke) Wright. Along with her older sister Joyce and their little brother Howard, Betty grew up in the small farming town of Anton, Texas. In high school she was a popular all around girl who played basketball, and was valedictorian of her graduating class.
She majored in Journalism at Texas Tech where she was the editor of The Toreador newspaper. After graduating in 1951, she worked as a freelance magazine writer before marrying Madison Newton. The couple lived on his family's farm, while she taught school for three years before welcoming their daughter Kimberly and son Monty. She was happy as a mom, and loved singing in the choir at the Methodist church, but her town also needed her as a teacher. Betty," the school principal begged "We're supposed to integrate the school and none of the other teachers want the new kids in their classes. Will you take them?" Of course she would! When Project Head Start was launched, she jumped at the chance to teach preschoolers and then found time to teach reading to adults as well. While teaching elementary school in Anton during the 1960's, she returned to Texas Tech and earned a Master's degree in Education. She moved to Amarillo in 1975 and taught at River Road High School until she retired. She loved working with the yearbook and newspaper kids and appreciated her co-workers.
Following the death of her second husband, Guy Neal, Betty moved to Austin in 2005. There she made a good life right next door to Monty and his family. Her daily trips included grocery shopping and the public library where the friendly librarians recommended good books. Nestled into her bright blue house in Central Austin, Betty drove herself everywhere, and remained independent and busy until the end of her life.
Betty leaves behind her daughter, Kimberly Kay Hunter, and her son and daughter-in-law, Monty and Nell Newton. Her grandchildren, Ian Hunter, Henry Newton, and Lulu Newton will always remember her bubbling pride in them.
We are thankful to so many people who welcomed Betty to Austin. The doctors and staff at Jefferson Street Family Practice, the wonderful stylists at the North Loop Hair salon, and the librarians at the Yarbrough branch of the Austin Public Library all helped to make Austin her home.
If you would like to honor Betty's achievements, please do so by taking the time to thank any teachers who have made a difference in your life.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Anton, TX on Tuesday, May 13. A celebration of Betty's life will be held in Austin at a later time.
Obituary and guestbook available online at www.wcfish.com
Published in Austin American-Statesman from May 11 to May 12, 2014