Betty Marie Hillers Thurston
Betty Marie Hillers Thurston passed away peacefully on January 3, 2021, from Covid-19. Betty was born on May 15, 1930 in a little town in South Dakota called Chester. She was the fifth of six children born to William "Bill" and Emma Hillers. Betty was 13 years old when her mother Emma died. Bill Hillers later moved his family to Sioux Falls, where Betty completed her high school education. She then attended nursing school at Fairview Hospitals in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she received her RN degree.
One of her best friends in high school was Virginia Thurston, who had an older brother named H. David. Betty married H. David on September 15 , 1951. They moved to Bogotá, Colombia (1954) when H. David accepted a position with the Rockefeller Foundation. Betty packed up her son Jeff (1953) to make the trip. It was in Bogotá that son Joe was born (1955). The family returned to Minneapolis so H. David could finish his PhD, and it was there that son Dave was born (1956). The family returned to Bogotá in 1958, where they lived until 1967. They then moved to Ithaca, New York, where Betty lived until her death.
Betty was a woman of strong faith, and was active in her church, Trinity Lutheran Church, serving in many capacities. She also actively served for Suicide Prevention and Hospice Care, and helping Trinity settle refugees.
Betty was an accomplished bridge player, winning trophies in Colombia, and continuing her play at the Ithaca Bridge Club. She remained an active player and organizer until just weeks before going into the hospital in 2018. She received her Silver Life Master's rating in 2015 after playing in a tournament with Henry Bethe.
She was pre-deceased by her husband H. David, her sisters Margaret, Ruth, and Delores, and her brother Delbert. She is survived by sister Wilma (93 years old); by her sons Jeffrey Lawrence (wife Ourania Chilimidos), Joseph William, and David Mark; by her grandchildren Nickolas (wife Stephanie) and Kristofer (from Jeff), Alexander (wife Rachel) (from Joe), and Aaron (from Dave). She had one great-grandchild, Hazel Ann Thurston (from Alex and Rachel).
Due to the pandemic, there will be no memorial service in the near future. Any memorials should be directed to Trinity Lutheran Church, 149 Honness Lane, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Published in Ithaca Journal from Jan. 4 to Jan. 5, 2021.