• Last modified 530 days ago (April 16, 2020)


expanded eulogies

Betty Williams

Graveside services for Florence farm owner and teacher Betty J. Williams, 93, who died April 4, will be at a later date at Hillcrest Cemetery in Florence.

Betty was born Nov. 27, 1926, at the home of her parents, Sam and Florence Robinson. She married Donald Williams in 1947 and graduated from Kansas State Teachers College in 1948.

Betty was a member of the First Christian Church, Marion PEO Chapter; served as Marion County Republican Committeewoman, Girl Scout and 4-H leader.

Betty rode the mail truck route from Florence to Emporia her senior year of college in order to complete her degree.  A neighbor assured her she couldn’t do it, but she did, and graduated in 1948.

She taught English, history, shorthand, and bookkeeping at Clements, Peabody, and Marion high schools.

In 1947, Betty married her best friend’s brother, Donnie Williams, and they were married for 57 years. Together they ran a successful farming operation incorporating farming, trucking, livestock, seed and fertilizer sales.

Betty kept the books while Donnie made the decisions and provided the brawn. They raised their children in a “work hard, do your best, and take time to play” environment.

She was a wonderful cook, and Donnie gave her chances to practice. People who stopped by their farm were invited to “come and eat.” Betty would pop in another potato, create beef and noodles from a simmering roast, or roll out a pie in nothing flat. Her grandchildren will remember Grandma’s homemade rolls and pies.

Betty was a life-long learner, and a voracious reader, including the Wall Street Journal, up until weeks before her death. She often said that being a good farmer meant knowing what was going on in the city as well as on the farm.

Her husband, Donnie, said that traveling with her was like having a personal travel guide; “she knew about the places we went because she’d read about them.”

She was the member of Florence Christian Church. One of her favorite hymns was “I Come to the Garden Alone,” which describes walking and talking with God in a garden.

Betty loved good conversation. Her children, eight grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren knew that Grandma wasn’t satisfied with a simple answer about one’s recent trip, job or schoolwork. She wanted to know more.

A memorial with the Florence High School Alumni Association will continue to fund a $1,000 scholarship for a student from Marion High School. Please send donations to: Florence Alumni Association in care of Jerry Malmgren, 6240 W. 155th St, Overland Park, KS 66223-3593.

Downing and Lahey Mortuary West Chapel is handling arrangements. Please share tributes at

Last modified April 16, 2020