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Betty Jean Dunham


1926 - 2020
Betty Jean Dunham

Des Moines - Betty Jean (Brown) Dunham passed away on March 20th, 2020 in her own home, surrounded by family, at the age of 93. Betty Jean was born on December 12th, 1926 to Clara and Russell Brown on a farm in Monroe County.

At an early age Betty Jean decided that farm life as a farm wife was not for her. There is a big, wonderful world out there and she was determined to see it all. After high school graduation and two years of teaching in a one room country school she set out to see the world and fulfill her dreams. In 1946 she moved to Ohio for a job with TWA Airlines. In Ohio, she met and fell in love with recent World War II airman and veteran Richard Dunham. They married in 1948 and settled in Des Moines, Ia. To this union three children were born: Deborah, Daniel (Linda), and Jennifer (Dan) Yoder. Dick and Betty divorced in 1971 and she began a journey of single parenthood and always worked two jobs to support her children. Betty worked for Job Service (now Iowa Workforce Development), International Harvester, International Trucks, Waste Management, Rolling Prairie Inn, and the Crystal Tree Restaurant. In 1973 Betty's daughter Deborah joined United Airlines as a flight attendant and they began a life of travel together, frequently visiting Hawaii, Europe, and China. She also enjoyed several cruises with her family.

Betty was devoted to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and was always "Grammie". She loved playing bridge and was a member of several bridge clubs. She was a great cook and hosted numerous family holiday meals.

Betty leaves behind to cherish her memory her brother Dick Brown, three children Deborah (her primary caregiver the last several months), Daniel (Linda), and Jennifer (Dan) Yoder, six grandchildren: Bryan (Rosa) Dunham, Andrew (Alicia) Dunham, Peter Dunham, Christopher (Sarah) Yoder, Kelle (Joseph) Banda, and Michael (Celesta) Yoder and seven great-grandchildren, nephew Bradley Brown, lifelong friends Gretchen Lindsay and Shelly Hill, and other friends too numerous to count.

Special thanks to the staff at Wesley Hospice, especially nurse Patty.

Due to the limitations on gatherings, no services will be held at this time. We plan to honor our Mom at a later date.

Betty's legacy will live on in her family and friends. Congratulations Betty Jean, you saw the whole world.
Published in Des Moines Register from Mar. 21 to Mar. 29, 2020
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