A baby girl was born to Irene and Lee Stapp this beautiful fall morning, October 8, 1939. Bette Lee is welcomed by her grandparents, Edward and Francis Curtis and Guy and Josephine Stapp, Aunt Nelda and Uncle Albert Stapp, and Aunt Elsie and Uncle Ken Dale. She will be the first-born in a close-knit extended family. She will come to have two sisters, Janice Irene and Arvada Carol (Dee), and many cousins including Sharon, Sandra and Shirlee Stapp and Keith Dale.
Bette Lee will take her first steps on the hills of Petrolia and later move to the families ranch in Hetten Valley. The ranch house is one that was built by her great grandparents and will stand as a reminder of years gone by, some good and some good and hard.
Bette Lee will attend a one room school-house in Hetten Valley. Her first teacher will be Hazel Willburn. Hazel will greatly impact Bette’s love of learning and will make a way for her to pursue her education even into her adult years. She will introduce her to literature and with a turn of the page, the world will be hers.
Bette Lee will leave home at age thirteen to attend high school in Red Bluff. Her home only offered school through the eighth grade. She will complete her high school education at Fortuna High School and graduate with a full scholarship to Humboldt State University.
She will meet her husband, John L Elgin at a Ruth dance in the summer of…oh I don’t know the year, but they loved to dance. They will build a home together and make many memories with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to come. Bette Lee and John L will have four children, Tracy Lee, Maxine Renee, Monica Norene and John Charles. They will share their home with many other children throughout the years. Those children will be “children of the heart” and will love her as a mother and she will tend to them as her own.
Bette Lee will have many talents as she will determine at an early age to be “more than just a pretty face.” She will teach herself to play the piano, she will enjoy drawing and painting. Her early years she will make paper dolls and dress them out of the Sears catalogue. This will lead to her interest in sewing clothes and will later serve as a gift to her children. When times are hard she will dig deep and let her imagination guide her. Shopping at the local thrift store for large clothing made of good cloth, she will make her daughters matching dresses and they will never know they were poor. Her sons will have western shirts made just right to fit and they will become a time-honored tradition.
There will be as many good times as bad time and Bette Lee will instill the love of life to her children. She will take an ordinary day and turn it into an extraordinary adventure. One such day will be in Trinidad on a foggy winter afternoon. She will long for her mountain home and the fun of playing in snow. On such a day, she will let her imagination play and soon she and her children will be crumpling paper and having an all out “snowball fight” laughter and giggling and papers tossed about. Her imagination and mindset will serve her well in raising her flock. There will be giant spider webs taking up the entire living room using a ball of yarn, there will be adventures of camping and swimming and road trips accross country. She will teach them how to live and let live, she will teach them how to go and to let go. But most of all she will teach them that they are valued and a part of something greater in this world.
Bette Lee will struggle and she will find her way. She will seek and she will find her feet on a solid foundation of Christ the redeemer. She will go back to school as an adult and get a doctorates degree in theology. She will establish Solid Rock Foundation Ministry, Hetten Valley Church, Bethany Garden Home and The Olive Branch Thrift Store. These ministries will fulfill her call to tend the sheep, to make a place in the wilderness for the lost and the abandoned. She will be adored by many and rejected by some. She will love them anyway.
She will live her life by design of The Creator and on November 28, 2017, He will take her home. She will leave, just as she has lived, in her own way and without hesitation.
(My Mom; this is the eulogy I could not write. May I now, once again, find my voice.)