GOTHENBURG - Betty Rosina (Kaufman) McPheeters, 88, of Gothenburg passed away Nov. 14, 2020, at Cozad.
She was born March 28, 1932, the youngest child of John and Rosina Kaufman, at their farm home northwest of Cozad. She graduated from Cozad High School in 1949, having studied teacher training. Betty was a country school teacher at age 17 at Pleasant Valley Rural School southwest of Gothenburg. Here she began to date her future husband, Burton McPheeters, although she went on to teach two more years at two more rural Cozad schools.
In the summers, Betty attended college at Kearney State Teachers' College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she played lead roles in theater productions. After marrying, Betty attended Kansas State College while Burton served in the U.S. Army at Fort Riley, Kan.
On Aug. 31, 1952, Betty married Burton Dale McPheeters at the First Presbyterian Church of Cozad. Betty was Burton's beloved creative partner in all things farm, family and faith. Their greatest joy was their five children, Marcy Ann, Kay Lynnette, Britt Ira, Scott Bradford and Julie Rose.
Growing up in Cozad, Betty was devoted to Sunday school and youth group. After marrying, she became a member of Banner United Methodist Church, where she served faithfully, often with ideas for more efficient serving of food at monthly covered dish dinners, and youth fundraising soup suppers. At funeral dinners, she was eager to serve families gathered to honor a loved one. Betty also sponsored youth group, taught adult and children's Sunday school, Bible school and missions classes, and served on many boards, including as district officer of UMW. She was enthusiastic about many traditions such as Christmas caroling following the evening Christmas program, and she helped establish several new traditions including a hilltop Easter sunrise service followed by a hot breakfast at the church, and church campout each August. Committed to Bible study, she was a founding member of Banner's Key 1973 Women's Bible Study that met regularly in homes for over 30 years.
In the community, she was a member and officer for the Open Door Club and the County Line Home Extension Club. She served for decades as a 4-H leader, creating many lessons and demonstrations to pass on her passion and talent for homemaking, cooking, sewing and fashion, as well as presentations and public speaking. She drew caricatures for local advertising campaigns and was a prolific member of the Pony Expressionists Art Club, the Doll Makers and the Pounce-A-Dears China Painting Club. She had a special interest in the local food bank, and in her later years, Betty served on the Gothenburg Memorial Hospital Foundation Board and as a TeamMates mentor.
She and Burton traveled throughout North America, and to Europe, the Holy Land, China and Australia. Always creative, Betty toured with artist groups, painting scenes in Vienna and China. Burton and Betty also had a lifestyle of hospitality and frequently and generously shared their table and talents with many, hosting both relatives and foreign students for seasons on end. Until Alzheimer's disease made it impossible in 2010, she made gallons of chicken soup for families in need. Betty continued to enjoy family, friends, food and fashion, giving compliments and encouragement to others through her last decade in memory care at Stone Hearth Estates and skilled care at Emerald Nursing and Rehabilitation.
Betty is survived by her husband, Burton; their five children, 18 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and many special nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.
Burton and Betty's children are Marcy (Dr. Charles E.) Hill of Maitland, Fla.; Kay (Vernon) Robbins of Grand Island; Britt (Cynthia) McPheeters of Bradenton, Fla.; Scott (Patricia) McPheeters of Gothenburg; and Julie (Keith) Gamble of Wellesley, Mass.
Burton and Betty's grandchildren and great-grandchildren are Sean (Megan) Hill and children Samuel, Jedidiah and Geneva of Seattle,Wash.; Charity (Grey) Leonard and children Ford and Zephyr of Dallas, Texas; James (Audrey) Hill of Charlotte N.C.; Gabriel Robbins of Tustin, Calif.; Abigail (Hendrik) Stahmer and children Noah and Elizabeth of Hamburg, Germany; Benjamin Robbins of Pasadena,Calif.; and Sara Robbins of Omaha; John "Jake" Mc Pheeters, Kaitlin (Will) Sparkman, and Margaret "Maggie" McPheeters, all of Birmingham, Ala.; Clark (Bryn) McPheeters and children Dior, Lux and Crew, Leigh (Ryan) Sukraw and sons Owen and Warren, Kerry (Karlie) McPheeters and son Kallen, and Holly (Caleb) Williams and son Oliver, all of Gothenburg; Liam, Enya, Neev and Finn Gamble of Wellesley, Mass.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, Rosina Lora (Billeter) and John Henry Kaufman; her special aunt, Fredericka "Reka" Billeter; her sibilings, Evelyn (William) Cogswell, Harold (Hazel "Tootsie") Kaufman, Marguerite (Raymond) Gronewold, Karl (Marjorie) Kaufman, Patricia (Lawrence) Block; her husband Burton's parents, Margaret Pearl (Grady) and Ira David McPheeters; sisters, Nina (John) Rummell and Nola (Kenneth) Wahlgren; and an infant son, Matthew Kirk McPheeters.
Visitation will be 2-7 p.m. Wednesday at Blase-Strauser Memorial Chapel in Gothenburg.
A second visitation with local family present and the funeral will be Friday at Victory Church in Gothenburg. Visitation will be 10:30 a.m.-noon. There will be a live camera feed so attendees can speak with Burton and the out-of-town children. Also, in the same spirit of care, the funeral service will be held online only, and can be viewed as a live virtual feed at 1 p.m. The link to access and watch is available on www.blasestrauser.com
or at the church website: www.facebook.com/VAOGGN
and also can be viewed in the future on these sites. Burial will follow the service at Peckham Cemetery south of Banner Church. Pandemic safety guidelines include wearing face coverings and observing at least six feet of distance between households.
The McPheeters family thanks everyone for their understanding and compassion during these unusual times. Guests are encouraged to share memories of Betty on www.blasestrauser.com
now, and when it becomes possible in the future, the family looks forward to connecting with friends and family in person.
Memorials may be given to the Banner United Methodist Church or the Alzheimer's Foundation.
Published by The Grand Island Independent on Nov. 24, 2020.