BETTY A. HANSHAW MCKEETH
Betty A. Hanshaw, born in Caldwell, Idaho, on July 5, 1924, was so small and fragile that the doctor didn’t think she would live; but with some sips of Eagle Brand milk she finally responded and has outlived every other member of her generation in our family. She, older sister Alice, and half-brother Carl were raised by their parents, George D. Hanshaw and Elizabeth Lillian Benning Hanshaw on a farm in the Upper Dixie Community near Caldwell.
When Elizabeth found her own mother dead of an embolism in 1928, her physical shock deeply impacted the rest of her life, directly affecting Betty’s existence too. Betty had a lonely life as a little girl, shy and without other children for playmates. She loved the song “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” because she learned about God’s love from early missionary Ray Chandler (whom she first met playing the saw on a ditch bank to attract children from school to the gospel) and pastor Ernest Stuchbery (in his youth a stableboy at the palace of England’s King George V). She experienced wonderful comfort in coming to believe in Jesus and has often said, “I finally found a friend!”
The Great Depression came with all its fury in 1929, affecting Betty’s family and changing their lifestyle in many ways. She went to school at the Little Red Top School and then Dixie school when the family moved to Arena Valley. There’s a glimpse of fighting spirit in the story that as boys following her home from school taunted her about her skinniness, calling her “Toothpick” etc., she finally got pushed too far. She hit a boy in the head with her little 3 lb. honey bucket lunch pail, drawing blood and summoning an angry father to school the next day. Teacher asked Betty if she would not do it again, and Betty replied, “No, not if I can find a rock!”
This fighting spirit carried Betty through a severe high school illness, the financial constraints of the depression, and restricted social interaction after school hours. At Wilder High School she relished singing in the Glee Club, performing in drama productions, serving as Student Body Secretary, and graduating as salutatorian in 1941. A lover of all things musical, she taught herself to play the pump organ, marxophone, and piano during these years.
In 1939 Betty saw her sister marry Merrill Dean and lost her half-brother to a tragedy when the lights went out on his Model-T Ford and he drove over a steep enbankment, dying instantly. She gained a new acquaintance about that time: Karl, who filled in as her blind date, after the planned “date” severed part of his finger earlier in the day. Living with the other “Bachelor Girls of NBC,” she attended Nampa Business College until funds ran out, and then she got her first job at the Agriculture Soil Conservation Office in Caldwell. She learned to measure farm land with a planimeter on aerial photo maps, along with other clerical duties. Betty refused to date Karl unless he would come to church with her, and the eventual result was his salvation. Love blossomed between Karl Whitted McKeeth and Betty; and a beautiful May 9, 1943, day saw them married at Pastor Stuchbery’s house in Caldwell, with Mother Elizabeth telling Betty that Karl was the most wonderful Mother’s Day present she could have received!
Karl continued work at Leo J. Mason Motor Company, and the new couple became very involved with the work of First Baptist Church of Caldwell. Karl eventually became Sunday School Superintendent, boys’ Sunday School teacher, and Head Deacon while Betty taught Sunday School, served as Deaconess, and sang (for 20 years) in the church’s ladies’ trio.
Children began to arrive. Between the birth of Cinda Kay and Suzanne Jo came the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and all the ramifications of war. In 1950 John Patrick was born to the family. In 1952 when fourth and final child, Kirk Joseph, was almost due, Betty’s mother passed away and wouldn’t let Betty come to the hospital to see her because Elizabeth was afraid that the expectant mother would have a miscarriage.
The next years flew by in raising children, serving at Caldwell First Baptist Church, aiding in the founding of Boulevard Christian school (which merged to form the Nampa Christian School system)--which all of her children would attend--working at the Federal Land Bank for many years, watching graduations, helping with weddings, welcoming grandchildren, and the myriad of events a mother and grandmother loves.
Interrupting the joys was Karl’s departure for heaven in 1971, one week before his scheduled open heart surgery. The loss of her husband and the godly patriarch of the family left a permanent tender spot for everyone who knew and loved him.
In 1976, wishing to serve the Lord in a special way, Betty went to Spanish language school in Edinburg, Texas, and then on to Quito, Ecuador, to work with HCJB at the urging of good friend Marg Saint Van der Puy. She filled an urgent need in the accounting department, loved singing in the HCJB world radio choir, and made a number of close friends while there. After two trips to Quito, with the second stint in Public Relations at HCJB, Betty resumed work at the Federal Land Bank in Caldwell.
Betty spent many years traveling to visit John’s and Kirk’s families with their mission work in Panama and then Honduras, and Cinda’s and Suzanne’s families enjoyed her visits as well. She spent her last ten years living with Kirk’s family in Nampa, Idaho, and always loved visits from family and friends. She attended El Tesoro Fellowship with Kirk’s family.
In her later life, Mother volunteered at Mercy Medical Center for twenty years, loving the job and encouraging many.
All who knew her will miss her gracious spirit and godly wisdom.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Karl, brother Carl, and sister Alice. She is survived by children Cinda (Myron) Wilson, Suzanne (Richard) Shaw, John (Nancy) McKeeth, and Kirk (Juanita) McKeeth. Grandchildren include Timothy (Kim) Keys, Daron (Yunae) Wilson, Sonya (Grant) Glaus, Luke (Tabitha) McKeeth, Nathan (Sara) McKeeth, Karl McKeeth, Hannah (Ariel) Moreno, Annie McKeeth, Andrew (Rachael) McKeeth, and Ellie (Kean) McHaddad. Great-grandchildren Gregory and Rachael Keys; Brynne and Isabel Wilson; Eden and Sofia Glaus; Zachariah, Elijah, Silas, and Daniel McKeeth; Dominic and Oliver Moreno; Eowyn McKeeth; and Eliana and Heidi McHaddad complete her treasured immediate family.
A special thank you to Cascadia for their care during her last days.
A memorial service will be held at Caldwell First Baptist Church on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at 2 pm.
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