Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Betty Jean Lacey Williamson, 84, was born into this world September 30, 1928. On February 12, 2013, as her son Denny held her hand in his, she passed from this life to be reunited in heaven with her firstborn son Larry on the date of his 64th birthday. She was also joyously reunited with Denzel, her husband of 55 years, and her parents, Dennis H. and Verdia Rhea (Smith) Lacey, and many other angels who went before her.
Betty was born on an oil lease near Earlsboro, Oklahoma. She was a 1947 graduate of Bowlegs High School. After graduation she met Denzel Williamson, a handsome young WWII veteran who was attending Seminole Jr. College. They were married in Van Buren, Arkansas in 1948.
After a year in Texas they made their home in Married Student Housing on the OU campus. Following Denzel’s graduation from the University of Oklahoma they followed the oil patch, living in various Oklahoma towns as well as in Texas and Kansas.
They chose Pauls Valley as the place to settle and raise their four children: Larry Denzel, Ben Eugene, Rhea Ann and Denny Lee.
Betty was a stay-at-home mom until 1969 when she and Denzel established Williamson’s Furniture Store in Pauls Valley. She worked in the store until Denzel’s death in 2003.
She enjoyed the customers and considered them her friends. Her former employees fondly remember the “dust rag.” If you weren’t busy on a delivery or helping customers, you better have a dust rag in your hand.
Betty instilled in her children the importance of family. She made sure they attended every family reunion on the calendar. Vacations were mapped out based on where other family members lived. Their homes were the vacation destinations.
When family members came to Betty’s home, they were treated like royalty and greeted with a smile. The red carpet was rolled out and the Mercury Marquis fired up. Guests were shown Southern Hospitality and the town.
Betty also taught her children, “If you’re not going to do it the right way, don’t do it at all.” Betty lived what she preached.
She was the consummate entertainer, the original Martha Stewart. She paid attention to every little detail, from the festive decor to the menu. Christmas trees were hand-flocked. The coconut on which the mounds of Jello Jiggler eggs sat was hand-dyed. Fourth of July cakes were hand-decorated with blueberries and strawberries in the shape of the flag.
All family get-togethers were considered special occasions. She made sure everyone’s favorites were on the table. She made “red soup and Eckridge sausage” for Denver. She made “Pink Stuff” for Lesley. Everyone requested Larry’s and Ben’s favorite enchiladas and chicken fried steak. Her pinto beans and stuffing were also a favorite.
On New Year’s Day the tradition was for Betty to make black-eyed peas and hog jowls as the Rose Bowl Parade played on the TV. Betty loved parades! On Thanksgiving it was The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 2005, Betty and Rhea Ann were thrilled to travel to New York to watch the Macy’s Parade in person.
Betty also traveled to London, England with the Red Hat Society to ride in the New Year’s Day Queen’s Parade.
Traveling was one of Betty’s favorite pastimes. She loved traveling around the country and abroad with the Red Hatters. She enjoyed Gospel Cruises with her friends from Trinity Baptist Church.
For 50 years Betty and Denzel traveled around the country attending his 45th Division World War II reunions. Betty frequently signed up for Mystery Trips. If someone said, “Go,” she was ready.
Betty was an accomplished shopper, a skill that she passed on to her daughter. Betty and Rhea Ann were often asked by Denzel why they were so late when the stores had obviously closed hours earlier. When all else was closed, they found the 24 hour Wal-Mart. Betty particularly enjoyed shopping for jewelry, purses and shoes.
Betty’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren were bathed in the light of her love. They were also bathed in her kitchen sink. It was one of the family’s favorite memories of their mother.
She was the Queen Mother of the Red Hot Sisters. After Denzel’s passing and her own retirement, Betty found a lot of time on her hands so she founded the local chapter of The Red Hat Society.
Over the years she wore many other hats: home room mother, Cub Scout den mother, Brownie leader, Mother’s Club, Bridge Club, treasurer for 5th Thursday Ladies’ group, President of the Willows’ Resident Association. She was a Past Worthy Matron of Eastern Star (she originally joined Eastern Star so she could see Rhea Ann be initiated). Betty was selected to be Mother Advisor for the local Rainbow Girls Chapter and was honored to be the State Mother Advisor in 1986-87.
Betty was a woman of culture. She enjoyed Broadway shows and bunco. Quilting and crocheting were also hobbies of Betty’s. She and her daughter-in-law, Tina, took a quilting class together. They pieced together many memories quilting and going to quilt shops. Betty also enjoyed sewing. On many occasions she stayed up all night to make Rhea Ann the perfect outfit for a special day.
Betty was a long-time member of Trinity Baptist Church.
Until the ultimate heavenly family reunion, Betty’s presence will forever be remembered through the love and traditions she shared. She will be remembered with a smile.
Betty is survived by her sons Ben Eugene, Denny Lee and wife Tina; daughter Rhea Ann; sister-in-law Tokee Lacey Richards of Shawnee, Oklahoma; grandchildren Larry Brent Williamson of Oklahoma City, Lesley Denzel of Yukon, Bryan Lee of Oklahoma City, Denver Lee and wife Kelsey, Dylan Caleb and Jesse Denzel; step-grandchildren J.C. Johnson of Oklahoma City, Clay Johnson of Medicine Park. Adam Poore of Abileen, Texas, and Patty Poore Hunt of Oklahoma City; great-grandchildren Morgan Elizabeth, Cutter James, Laine Alexander and Sawyer Lee; and a host of nieces and nephews.
Betty is preceded in death by her husband Denzel E. Williamson; her son Larry D. Williamson; and her siblings John D. Lacey, Lee R. Lacey, Clara Jane Hendrick and Jacqueline Maxine Treadway.
Funeral services are scheduled for Friday, February 15, 2013 at 2 p.m. in the First Baptist Church of Pauls Valley with Dr. Joe Elam officiating. Interment will be in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Pauls Valley.
Services are under the direction of Wooster Funeral Home. You may send a condolence to the family at http://www.woosterfuneralhomes.com