Betty Lynne Foote Ray, 92, of Casper, Wyoming, passed away at her home on Friday April 27, 2018. She was the granddaughter of Norwegian homesteaders in South Dakota in the 1880’s and immigrants from Edinborough, Scotland who settled in Lead, South Dakota in the 1850’s. Her parents, David Foote and Myrtle Hanson met and married in Lead. They moved their growing family to Casper where Betty was born on August 20, 1925. Her father later became Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives during the 1950’s.
She spent her elementary school years at Park School where she regularly won the jacks tournament, was a cheerleader and girl scout, played softball and began her academic life. At Natrona County High School she participated in many activities that continued through her life including Girls’ State, chorus, cheerleading and Spanish.
She loved to read as a young child and was especially inspired by her high school English teacher, Miss Frances Feris. For her whole life, she devoured books of every genre and was knowledgeable about all. Her interests were vast and varied. Her curiosity about the world was infectious.
Dancing was another lifelong love. She began tap dancing in junior high with a group of friends who performed at events throughout Casper. She became an outstanding ballroom dancer and found her lifelong partner in dance and in love on the dance floor. Although friends throughout high school, during their senior year Oscar Ray and Betty fell in love. Following graduation in May 1943, shortly before he was shipped to the South Pacific in 1944, they were married. While Oscar was a medic in the Navy primarily on Peleliu Island, Betty worked in the Red Cross Office. Here she was greatly impacted by Nurse Irene Patterson who Betty has said had the greatest influence on her as she grew into maturity.
During their 65 years of marriage Betty and Oscar were partners in every way. They raised five children and worked together as business partners in several businesses in Casper. In the early 80’s she became proprietor of the first spa/hot tub businesses in the state. In addition to being a wife, mother and entrepreneur, she was an early employee of the Rheumatic Fever Laboratory at Natrona County Memorial Hospital, a job in which she took particular pride due to its effect nearly eradicating the disease in the area.
Her involvement in the Casper community was deep - teaching Sunday school to teenagers at the First Presbyterian Church, belonging to Eastern Star and participating in Service League. She also served as a member of the Wyoming Symphony Guild, organized political meet and greets, hosted study groups on a myriad of topics and dropped off “meals on wheels” to homebound residents. Classmates from the class of ‘43 looked forward to the reunions she spearheaded through the years. She took great joy in designing and decorating her home and playing bridge with friends she loved. Attending plays, ballet recitals, concerts and sport’s events in which her children participated was a big part of her life.
Betty was always there for her husband, her children, and a multitude of friends, family and acquaintances who came to rely on her for advice and support. Her legacy as a compassionate, thoughtful and inspiring woman will remain in the hearts of all who knew her.
Betty is survived by her children Tom Ray (Shirley) of Casper, Jerilyn Ray Shelley (Herb) of Potomac, Maryland, Jana Stotler (Tom) of Puerto Viejo Costa Rica, Marla Skelley (Paul) of Olympia, Washington, her sister Beverly Harris of Denver, Colorado, and numerous grandchildren, great-grand-children, and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Oscar, son Bruce, and grandsons Jason Ray Pfau and Jon Ray, parents, brothers David Foote Jr., Victor S. Foote, sister, Vivian Melvin and infant sister, Doris.
A celebration of Betty’s life will take place this summer in Casper. Memorial donations may be made to Friends of the Library, Central Hospice of Wyoming or charity of choice.
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