Bettye J. Willoughby
October 25, 1928 – July 4, 2014
Bettye Jean (Cook) Willoughby, 85, passed away July 4, 2014 surrounded by her family. Betty was born October 25, 1928 in Washita County, Oklahoma to Walter and Retha Cook. When Bettye was young, the Cook family moved to Curry County, New Mexico. Bettye was a student/teacher most of her life who enjoyed studying and learning. She graduated from Field High School and because her mother was insistent that she receive a Christian-based education, Bettye enrolled at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma.
While on vacation from SNU and working at her father’s small country store, in walked a young G.I. who had just returned from WWII. Bettye waited on the tall good-looking man with curly hair and after he left, she declared “that was the man she intended to marry.” On July 9, 1950, Bettye and James Eldridge Willoughby were married and established their home in Field, NM and attended church at First United Methodist Church in Melrose, NM. Bettye and Eldridge worked together on the farm where they probably had more crop failures than successes. Bettye’s feet may have been in Oklahoma at the time of her death, but her heart was always in The Land of Enchantment and she loved New Mexico even when the winters were harsh and the winds blew.
Bettye and Eldridge had two children, Anna Denise and James Lyle (Butch). When Denise and Butch were in grade school, Bettye returned to college to finish her degree at Eastern New Mexico University and in 1963 began teaching English at Melrose and became the school’s librarian. Bettye retired from Melrose Public Schools after 26 years and was inducted into the New Mexico Teacher’s Hall of Fame. During that time she had a positive impact on the lives of many students.
After Eldridge’s death in 1987, Bettye remained on the farm until the move to Clovis in 2000. She was actively involved in the women’s group at First United Methodist Church in Clovis until she moved to Edmond, Oklahoma in 2000. After moving to Edmond she joined Southern Hills Christian Church where she became an active member.
Bettye loved her family, her friends, entertaining, and all things beautiful. She was a woman of faith, a great cook, a wonderful hostess and always a lovely lady full of grace and poise even until the end of her life.
Bettye is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Eldridge, a grandson Adam Krueger, and a nephew Jay Cook Price. She is survived by her two sisters, Earlene Price of Rio Rancho, NM; Evelyn Chambers and her husband Charles of Portales, NM; her children Denise and Dennis Krueger of Cordell, OK; Butch and De’Aun Willoughby of Melrose, NM; grandchildren Aaron and Emma Krueger of Edmond, OK; Shay and Tyler Denning of Aztec, NM; and Ryan and Crystal Willoughby of Farwell, TX and her great-grandchildren, Branson, Tucker, Kennedy, Hadley, and Bennett.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 pm Thursday, July 10, 2014. Memorials may be made to Southern Hills Christian Church of Edmond or The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma, the Melrose United Methodist Church or the Jay Cook Price Memorial Scholarship at Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico. If you are unable to attend the service, we ask your presence in thought and prayer.