Bette D. Talbert was born at home on December 12, 1926 in Crookston, Minnesota. She was the third of seven children of Alton and Blanche Ellingson. Bette grew up in a loving, close-knit family with close connections to the Catholic Church. Her father was the Head Engineer at Mount St. Benedict and her mother was a nurse with St. Francis Hospital in Crookston. Bette had a lifelong love of music. She and her sisters received instruction in voice, piano and string instruments by the Sisters of Mount St. Benedict. In their teens, the Ellingson Sisters Quartet sang at local venues in Crookston and had a weekly radio show in Fargo. Bette later studied at the Minneapolis College of Music and the McPhail School of Music in Minneapolis. With her sister Rosita, she joined two other local performers in Minneapolis and they became "The Velvetones." The group sang on WCCO radio in Minneapolis and at numerous other venues with well-known celebrities. She went on to pursue a vocal career in New York City, including performances at Leon & Eddies and other nightclubs. While there she also attended night classes in fashion modeling and went on to make use of that in future runway and many photo shoots, the highlight being a page for Vogue magazine.
In 1960 she married Tom Talbert, a musician, composer and arranger in New York City. They returned to the Midwest where Bette helped to run a 400 acre cattle ranch in Wisconsin. After their divorce in 1973, Bette moved to California where she worked in Palm Desert. There, she pursued her love of music by joining the West Coast Opera. She was part owner and manager of an apartment complex in Rancho Mirage, California until her retirement in 1997. After retiring, she moved to Prescott AZ which gave her many opportunities to continue with her music. She was a piano accompanist for the Sacred Heart Catholic Church choir and was a soprano in the Prescott Pops Symphony Chorus. Bette will long be remembered by her family and friends as a warm and loving person and as an optimist who loved life, took chances, and was fiercely independent. Bette was preceded in death by her parents, former husband Tom Talbert, brother Al Ellingson, and sister Rosita Barber.
She is survived by sisters Diane (Jack) Hendrickson, Mona (Dennis) Sullivan, Claire (Eddie) Derosier, and brother Bill (Pam) Ellingson, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memories of Bette can be shared on the Tribute Wall of the Ruffner Wakelin Funeral Home, Prescott, AZ. Her family is planning a memorial service and celebration of her life next summer in Crookston. Details will be announced at a later date.
Published by Crookston Daily Times from Nov. 25 to Nov. 26, 2020.