Her family is grateful for the abundant, joyous life of Betty Lou, which drew to a close August 27, 2021 at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital. She was 91.
Born in Saskatoon in 1929 to Thomas and Beatrice Cherry, she was named Beatrice, but always known as Betty Lou.
Betty Lou will be lovingly remembered by her children, Sheila Robertson (Robert Rawlyk), Grant (Susanne Wise), and Glen. She leaves three grandchildren, Jason Robertson (Jennifer) and Sarom and Sovann Curtis (Hollie Davis), as well as four great-grandchildren: Blake, Tate, Piper and Brodie Robertson. Also part of her fond family circle are her nieces and nephews, and Robert’s children: Elijah, Bryn, Franny and Dylan Rawlyk and their families.
Betty Lou was predeceased by her father (1956) and mother (1983), her stepfather, Harry Jones (1990), her brother, Robert (1993), and her loving husband, Frank (2007). She recently lost her sister-in-law, Audrey Cherry, and her lifelong friend, Frances Lagore.
Betty Lou met Frank at the Saskatoon Technical Collegiate, where they were leads in a musical. Having graduated from Nutana Collegiate, she was taking a secretarial course. When Frank ventured to invite her on a date, she declined because she was to play the accordion at a dance that night. He offered to come along and carry the accordion on the streetcar. They married in 1950, and made music together for more than 50 years thereafter. Frank’s baritone graced the wonderful choir Betty Lou led at St. Paul’s United Church. Her clear soprano made her much in demand as a soloist, and she also sang with the Saskatoon Choral Society.
To improve her expertise as a choir director, Betty Lou took a course in conducting through the university while in her 70s. She continued leading choirs until retiring at St. Martin’s United Church at age 87.
Frank and Betty Lou farmed more than 40 years near Saskatoon, and the original plumbing-free bungalow grew and saw many improvements under their care. They didn’t return to city living until 1997, when Sheila and Robert took over the farm.
Betty Lou was Clavet School’s secretary for a decade. Her children, who attended there, believed it was a sneaky way of keeping an eye on them. Later, she was secretary at St. Paul’s United Church.
Frank and Betty Lou were well-travelled, thanks to their sons’ peregrinations. Grant’s international development career drew them to Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malawi, and the Philippines. Grant recalls his parents nearly knocking each other over in their haste to meet the twin boys he and Susanne adopted in Cambodia in 1989. Betty Lou and Frank visited Europe many times to follow Glen’s dance career in Germany. They also were proud of Sheila’s journalism career closer to home, and filled many scrapbooks with clippings of her articles.
Betty Lou had a true gift for joy. Her vivaciousness and genuine interest in others proved magnetic. Strangers encountered in a supermarket lineup would pour out their hearts to her. A young German man encountered on a trans-Atlantic flight became a correspondent and then a friend. When her children called her Sweetness and Light, it was only slightly tongue-in-cheek.
Throughout her life, Betty Lou had a succession of dogs. Her last one, a rescue terrier, Lucy, is now in Glen’s care. Recently, when he asked the perennial question, “Which one is your favourite child?” Betty Lou’s reply was diplomatic: “Lucy,” she said.
Downsizing to move from her condo on Berini Drive to Luther Riverside Terrace—and then to her most recent home, Amy McClure House, where staff members were so very good to her—was challenging. She was drawn to pretty, shiny things, from clocks and souvenir spoons to brass objects. Of course, she was a pretty, shiny thing herself, and will be dearly missed.
A private family service will be held at a later date.
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