CAMP POINT, Ill. -- Betty Jo Lawless, 90, formerly of Camp Point, died March 11, 2014, in Melbourne, Fla.
She was born in Denver, Colo., on Jan. 5, 1924, a daughter of William and Ruth Rachel Pomeroy Lawless.
Her father had worked wherever there was work during the Depression, but because of illness and the economy, moved the family back to Paloma. They finally settled in Camp Point, where her father opened a hardware store. Betty Jo was 6 years old at the time, and she took her elementary and secondary schooling there at Camp Point. She enjoyed many activities in high school and was always very active, including getting her pilot's license by the age of 20.
After high school graduation, she went to college in Macomb at Western Illinois University where she earned a physical education degree. This led her also to work closely with polio victims and eventually to the University of Minnesota
, where she worked with Sister Kenny and received her physical therapy degree.
From there, she served her country by enlisting in the U.S. Army
(which became the Army Air Force). World War II
was over, but she was stationed in England at the Rudyard Kipling Estate that had been turned into a field hospital (kind of a European Walter Reed Hospital for wounded servicemen of World War II). She served for 12 years in this field.
Betty Jo's background and training led her to Alaska for four years where she worked at the Alaska Crippled Children's Hospital. Here she worked not just at the hospital, but her flying expertise allowed her to fly a Piper Cub to many outlying areas and Native American villages. Once, she and her pilot crashed, and they had to walk out of the wilderness. Because of her extensive hunting and fishing experience, that wasn't much of a problem!
From Alaska, Betty went to Colorado State University in Greely, Colo., where she received a degree in occupational therapy. From there, she moved to California where she was hired to be the head of occupational and physical therapy for all of Southern California. (She was flown out to Palm Springs for a few weeks to care for a recuperating General Eisenhower as his personal physical therapist, also.) She was transferred to serve the whole of Northern California in that same capacity, and she did so for 10 years, mostly in the 1960s.
Betty Jo heard the calling to serve her family in 1974 and moved back to Camp Point to care for her mother and, later, her father. It was during this time that she moved back to the farm again and involved herself with a "few other things" such as being a physical therapist in Quincy and fitting braces for children; taking charge of the family farm; being in the National Guard; and singing in the choir at the Methodist church.
She "retired" in 2004 ... some of her various activities were: being a solid rock for the outreach of the church and being the "mom" in records for the National Guard Unit (which was really the tank unit).
Her hobbies included animals (in particular dogs, cats and birds), music, wintering in Florida the last 15 years, singing in choirs, church work two days a week and family.
She is survived by her sister, Marilyn Beckemeier (Ed), Melbourne, Fla.; two nephews, Andrew Beckemeier, Germany, and Bill Beckemeier, Naperville. Her third nephew, Jim Beckemeier, had survived Betty Jo, but recently passed away in April in Texas. Each of them have two children, and she also has six grandnephews and nieces and one great-grandniece, Jade.
SERVICES: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 3, in the Camp Point United Methodist Church with the Rev. Joe Tomich and Rev. Jeff Rasche conducting. Burial of her cremated remains will follow at Evergreen Cemetery in Camp Point.
VISITATION: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the church.
MEMORIALS: Camp Point United Methodist Church.
ARRANGEMENTS: Lummis Hamilton Funeral Home, Camp Point.