Betty Marie Hillers Thurston
1930 - 2021
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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.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Ithaca Journal from Jan. 4 to Jan. 5, 2021.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by The Ithaca Journal
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5 entries
January 5, 2021
Betty was dear friend, loved her so much, will miss her but rejoice she is home!
Sandra Hintz
January 5, 2021
Condolences to all the Thurstons. Glad I got to meet your Mom; Dave. My heart goes out to you, Aaron, and all of your family & friends.
—Dave & Karen✝❤
January 4, 2021
Oh, this is sad news! I played Bridge with Betty for 25 years. We joked that I was her long lost daughter, being born on Nov. 20, 1953. I was hoping to play cards with her again at bridges as we did before COVID reared it's ugly head. She was a kind, warm person and I will miss her deeply.
Ellie O'Connor
January 4, 2021
Betty was beloved by the members of the Bridge Club of Ithaca. She was an intelligent, kind woman, who had such a fun sense of humor. She will be very missed.
Janelle Tauer
January 4, 2021
To the family of dear lady Betty,
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I knew Betty at the bridge table at the Ithaca Bridge Club and at Bridges during the pre-Covid days. She was a gracious and awesome partner and opponent. She will be sorely missed. I am sure she is in heaven arranging games with Henry, Anne, Tom, Joe and others. May she rest in peace. Annie Schissel

Ann Schissel
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