Betty Jean (Neale) Johnson passed away peacefully on what would have been her wedding anniversary on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, at Ashley Manor Care Center in Baker City, OR where she had been a resident for a number of years. All her ten children were present at her time of passing along with other family members and friends.
Betty was born in Filer, Idaho, to Claude Belden Neale and Cleaba Beulah (Abel) Neale Savage on Christmas Eve December 24, 1925, and was the third of four daughters with the youngest, Wilma Ward of Portland, OR, still living. She graduated from Filer High School in 1943 and worked at Harry and David’s in Ashland, OR in her late high school years while spending the summer with her mother and stepfather, Roy Savage. She married Kenneth Leo Johnson on October 23, 1945 in Buhl, ID, following Ken’s return home after his service in WWII. While living in Buhl, they had two sons, Kenneth Jr. and Daniel. Ken enrolled in the teaching program at Southern Idaho College of Education in Albion, ID. Two years later, with another son, Anthony, Ken, and Betty moved to La Grande, OR in 1951. Ken earned his teaching degree at Eastern Oregon College of Education, and now, with son Mark, the family moved to Baker, OR, where Ken began work as a 6th-grade teacher and administrator. Over the next several years the Johnson family moved to Haines and Ontario where the family grew with Chris, Karen, Lance, Matt, and David. With nine children, they eventually settled in Halfway, OR in 1963. Two years later, the family was completed with the birth of the last son, Jonathan.
Betty was a busy mother as anyone with a large family could attest. In addition to her work at home, Betty was active in the communities where she lived. She was involved in her church, a member of a bridge club, made ceramics, and worked alongside her husband in numerous activities sponsored by the Lions Club Ken had co-founded in Halfway. Betty attended hundreds of sporting activities to support her children and read books passionately. She enjoyed family outings of fishing, picnicking, and picking huckleberries.
Additionally, she loved gardening-especially nurturing her roses and tending to her hummingbirds, informants on what mischief her children and grandchildren may have been involved in. When asked, ‘How did you find out? she would reply, “A little birdie told me.”
Betty was proceeded in death by her parents, stepfather Roy Savage, two sisters, Mary and Maxine, and her husband, Ken. She is survived by her son Ken Jr. of Halfway, OR; son Dan and wife Monty of Nampa, ID; son Anthony and wife Kristi of Baker City, OR; son Mark of Vista, CA; daughters Chris and husband Larry Bush, Karen and husband Wayne Endersby, both of Halfway, OR; son Lance and wife Carol of Pendleton, OR; son Matt and wife Margie of Eugene, OR; son David and wife Debbie of Dallas, OR; son Jon and significant other Marlon of Hillsboro, OR., plus twenty five grandchildren, thirty four great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild along with numerous nieces and nephews.
A service will be held during Memorial Day weekend in May of 2020 in Halfway. Memorial contributions to honor Betty may be made to Ashley Manor Care Center or Heart ’n Home Hospice through Gray’s West & Co. Pioneer Chapel at 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.
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