Bettie Nissen Kasavan (1925 - 2012)

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Bettie Nissen Kasavan


Bettie Nissen Kasavan, 87, passed away quietly of natural causes Saturday, October 20, 2012, at her home in Salinas. She had been under the care of Hospice and 24 hour caregivers while receiving many visits and calls from her family and close friends.

Bettie was born May 28, 1925 in Oak Park, IL, to Marie Christine Nielsen and Marius Theodore Nissen, a painting contractor, both immigrants from Denmark who met in Chicago.

Bettie was the youngest of three daughters, the late Elsie Graf and Margaret Sherer of Seattle. During WWII, as one of the "Rosie the Riveters", Bettie worked for the Amertorp Torpedo Ordinance factory. She also worked for Eastman Kodak and repaired jewelry at the Tropical Trader while she attended the Art Institute in Chicago studying dress design. Bettie was athletic and an active tennis player at this time.

Marius moved his family to San Juan Bautista in 1945 seeking year-round painting work afforded by the California weather. Soon they moved to Salinas. Marius was also a Deacon in the Episcopal Church affiliated with St. George's and later St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

In Salinas, Bettie found work for a produce company while taking classes at Salinas Junior College (Hartnell Community College). She met her husband Jerry, a WWII veteran and local architect, on a blind date. Jerry had moved to Salinas with his immigrant family in 1924. They married in 1950 and started a family.

Bettie was a homemaker and popular hostess known by her many friends as a great cook. She entertained many friends at her famous dinner and cocktail parties, bridge parties and traditional family holiday feasts.

She was an accomplished and ranked bridge player who was competing and winning local tournaments well into the last year of her life. She was smart, positive, outgoing and well known for her strong personality, quick sense of humor and ready jokes.

Bettie and Jerry were Charter Members of the Corral de Tierra Country Club (#50). She was proud of her service as the Captain of the Women's Golf Club, her 16 handicap and her 3 holes-in-one (8 & 11) and an eagle (15).

Bettie took her turn in many leadership and service roles in Salinas, including President of the Lincoln School and Monterey Park PTA, President of the American Heart Association, member of the Hartnell Foundation, and member of the Salinas Women's Club. She participated as a dancer in many of shows and performances at the Women's Club.

She was a volunteer driver for the Crosby/AT&T Golf Tournament for more than 25 years. She was also a cancer survivor who volunteered for the American Cancer Society to drive other cancer patients to their appointments and treatments.

Bettie was a loving, generous wife, mother, grandmother and a close friend to many. She was loved in return and will be missed by her family and friends who will forever treasure her memory.

Bettie was preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Elsie and her husband of 51 years, Jerome (Jerry) Kasavan.

She is survived by her son, Peter; grandson, David; son, Jeffrey (Leah); granddaughter, Laura and grandson, Philip; daughter, Christine (Mike) Stafford; granddaughter, Sarah, and grandsons, Aaron, Joseph and Jesse.

At Bettie's request, there will be no services.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1071 Pajaro St., Salinas, CA 93901 or The American Cancer Society, 945 S. Main St., Ste. No. 201, Salinas, CA 93901.

Funeral arrangements by Struve and Laporte Funeral Home. Online condolences to

Funeral Home
Struve and Laporte Funeral Chapel
41 West San Luis Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 424-0311
Funeral Home Details
Published in The Salinas Californian on Nov. 3, 2012
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