Betty Lou Anthony (1929 - 2019)

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  • "Ms. Betty Lou, How i loved seeing you when you would come..."
    - Shelley Williams
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Betty Lou Anthony
September 13, 1929
August 9, 2019

A "normal " day for (Rev) Betty Lou Anthony was to fly with the Bishop of Alaska in bush planes to remote villages and land on makeshift runways. An ordained deacon in the Episcopal church, "Deacon Betty" ministered to the spiritual needs of the Alaskan natives. On August 9, 2019, Anthony died in her sleep while living in Claremont, California. Born Betty Lou Elmer on September 13, 1929, in San Diego, California, Anthony spent her early youth in the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles, California. A child of The Great Depression, she spent many hours in the "meat" lines to receive either lamb or horse meat. Having come from a military family, Anthony attended three different high schools in her junior and senior years. Known as, "Effervescent Personified" Anthony could always be counted on for a new dance step or drill team routine. As World War II raged across the seas, Anthony and her fellow teens spent many volunteer hours making pockets and booties for the hospital. This did not, however, deter her from her love of history, music and science. Her dream was to become a doctor in China. "I traded my scalpel in for a paring knife," she often laughed. While singing in a choir at church, Anthony caught the attention of a young sailor, Hugh McRay James. They were married shortly thereafter and had three girls, Kathryn, Judith and Rebecca. They raised their children in Apple Valley, California, where Anthony worked as a secretary for Southern California Gas Company. But nothing could keep Anthony from the lure of music. Soon her rich soprano voice garnered the roles of "leading lady" in such productions as, "The Merry Widow," "Song of Norway," and "Rose Marie," to name a few. Her voice could also be heard on recordings featuring the "Schola Cantorum," a prestigious vocal group which worked with well-known artists such as singer/actor Jester Hairston, known for his role in the musical, "Finian's Rainbow." After 22 years of marriage, Anthony and her husband split - leaving Anthony to fend for herself and raise the three girls alone. She divided her time between mothering, singing and volunteering at the schools her daughters attended. In between, Anthony could be found either at her Singer Sewing Machine making the girls' clothes, or in the kitchen making a new international meal for dinner. "I wanted my girls to get a taste of the exotic," she explained. Besides being proud of "her beautiful girls", Anthony was also proud of her first-place ribbons she'd win when entering her crocheted and knitted work, along with jams and jellies in the San Bernardino County Fair. For many years straight, Anthony's apple pies always brought home the blue. To keep in shape, Anthony loved to belly dance. When Anthony's last daughter went to college, she, too, hit the road. Anthony's life became even more of an adventure as she packed up her "sourdough heel" and headed off to Alaska. Her first stop took her across the frozen tundra to Barrow, where she learned the native's language, Inupiat, went whale hunting with the natives and cooked muktuk, pickled whale blubber. Anthony then traveled to the milder climate of Anchorage where she worked as head accountant for the municipality. Here she met Richard David Anthony, retired colonel of the United States Army. Soon their friendship blossomed and they married in May, 1990. For 47 years, Anthony made Alaska her home where she retired, became a deacon, and shared chasing away bears, fishing and duck hunting with her "best friend and husband." They were married for 29 years. Anthony is survived by her husband, Richard David Anthony; daughters Kathryn Ann Nasiali, Judith Sue Delph and Rebecca Jo JamesCourie; sons-in-law Opanyi Kivai Nasiali and Samuel John JamesCourie; grandchildren Robert James Delph, Edwin Joseph Elmer Delph and Minayo Ann Nasiali, and their families. Interment is at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.
Published in the Daily Press on Sept. 21, 2019
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