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 Mary Elizabeth “Betty” <I>Picton</I> Montgomery

Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Picton Montgomery

Spokane, Spokane County, Washington, USA
Death 2 Oct 2012 (aged 94)
Issaquah, King County, Washington, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 100125035 · View Source
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Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Picton was born on September 23, 1918 in Spokane Washington to Lewis and Grace Picton. She was the third of four children. Owen and Louise preceded her with Lewis Jr. to follow. Her parents were first generation Welsh who had settled in Spokane. Lewis senior worked as a railroad engineer and Grace, having been a teacher in Wales, was a homemaker.
Betty barely survived her childhood. By the age of ten she had fallen into a fire and been badly burned, fallen from the window of a moving car and miraculously only experienced scrapes and bruises and had pulled a kettle of boiling oil off a stove and onto her head and upper body causing severe burns and extensive hospitalization. In relating these stories both Grace and Mom reiterated (with some embarrassment on Grace's part) that Mom was hardly neglected nor unattended to as a child, rather a more that normal victim of the vicissitudes of life. Mom related some of her favorite childhood memories and how they were actually impacted by these accidents. By the age of ten she had mastered the art of "having a difficult day at school" which would often lead to her father walking to school, picking her up and taking her for ice cream (she admitted that she had mastered the skill of using parental guilt to her advantage). She relished these special, alone times with the father she adored. She looked up to her older brother for his charm and charisma, relied on and deeply loved her older sister and arm wrestled incessantly with her younger brother about virtually any issue that would come up (as was humorously pointed out to them often by our cousins and ourselves, they were two peas in a pod with virtually identical value and belief systems who could find a way to argue about which shade of blue the sky was). Over the years, this relationship became an important part of Mom's security. She always knew that Lew and his wife Glenda were there when she really needed them.
Betty graduated from Rogers HS in Spokane and then Eastern Washington University, settling on a career as an elementary teacher. She taught in the Loon Lake, Auburn and Federal Way school districts amassing numerous awards and acclaim for both her commitment to teaching and her life-long love of music. This love and her considerable musical talents led her to the role of musical director for Auburn schools (a chore she took on while still teaching full-time). I can still remember many of the amazing performances she produced, directed and taught. Years after having retired mom continued to receive well- wishes and thank-yous from many of the hundreds of students and parents she had touched.
Mom's spirituality was a great comfort to her. She attended Baptist churches as a child and settled in the Disciples of Christ denomination as an adult. Once again, her musical talents and willingness to teach led her to years of choir participation, the often intimidating job of church pianist and choir director roles. She attended church well into her 80's and her tattered King James Version was always near her bed through her last days. Mom developed a soft, loving and accepting form or spirituality. She was generous with others, always supportive of the underdog (often one of the Seattle or Spokane sports teams she and I followed) and committed to support of the under-privileged. For decades she would without fail support at least one child per year through the Save The Children Foundation. I remember her happiness at receiving a card of thanks written by a young child in some far-off foreign land expressing gratitude for the few dollars sent that meant so much.
Mom would probably say that as miraculous as surviving her childhood was surviving her tumultuous marriage to Alvin Wesley Montgomery and the childhoods of her sons. Mom was not well prepared for marriage nor in many ways for motherhood. Some combination of childhood trauma and genetic predisposition left her with what would be later known as the Picton (or as I can attest to Montgomery) tendency towards depression and or anxiety. Mom was deeply afflicted by irrational but none the less real feelings of fear that shaped much of her and consequently Dave's and my life. She was overwhelmed and frozen by my birth and doubly overwhelmed when Dave came along. She felt fully overwhelmed by parenting us and when she and Bud (Alvin) divorced, she was on her own, depressed and frozen. She survived by throwing herself into her teaching, working with children in a class that allowed distance from the deep responsibility of parenting. Needless to say, she had two children waiting at home to be parented. Providence takes many forms and at that critical time her father Lewis died. This "freed" her mother Grace to move from Spokane to Redondo (Dave's and my childhood home) where she lived out the remainder of her 96 years. It was occasionally and cordially debated as to whether Grace moved in to be cared for by Betty during her time of grief or whether Grace moved in to rescue her daughter's family. What I know as I write this with tears in my eyes is that without our grandmother's love, stability and strength we might not have survived. She was and after all these years remains the cornerstone of what sanity and security I have managed to achieve.
Remembering Mom's fear and depression, while difficult for Dave and I to live around, also leaves me with a strong sense of respect for her dogged determination to go on despite virtually no confidence that she was up to the task of taking care of herself, much less her children. I have wonderful memories or summers at Loon Lake, being taught to swim, ride a bike, catch a ball and enjoy sports with mom. She found a way to attend all my sporting events and many practices and was so proud of any of our achievements in sports, school and music. As I implied before, she was often best when slightly distant but still there. She was our father as well as mother and we were well-served by her wide range of interests. My closest friends called her B and considered her their friend also. They felt her sincere interest in their lives and I often marveled at the warm conversations she would have with them. To this day when old friends and cousins reconnect with me they ask about her and share warm memories. Mom felt deeply connected to her nieces and nephews. She was always interested in them and I believe they felt loved and supported in their various endeavors.
Mom maintained strong political beliefs and values thru the course of her life. Those of you who knew her well will have no trouble knowing what her stands would be on many of the issues facing us in the months to come. For anyone else reading this I will "channel" her value system from the grave, trust me she would appreciate my doing that She believed strongly in women's rights to make decisions about and care for their bodies, supported loving relationships regardless of gender or sexual identity, she deeply knew, given the impact of depression and anxiety on her life, that we are not all created equal and those of us "born on third base, thinking we hit a triple" are (as mom would say) "full of it". She believed that we are our brother's keeper and that compassionate help for those less fortunate lifts them up rather than makes them lazy. She always voted and always voted in line with her deeply felt value that everyone should have the same opportunities afforded her. You can probably guess who she would have voted for as president (she would hope you wouldn't have to guess).
Finally, as with the ability to be there for students in ways she often couldn't be for her children, as I ,and I hope Dave, became less dependent on her she was able to be more there for us. Mom became one of my best friends. Her anxiety and obsessiveness often drove me crazy but as I faced my own I had more compassion and less anger towards her. We shared vacations, holidays, the joy of her four grandchildren (Colin, Eric, Kelly and Lauren) and many years of conversation,, laughter and tears. We got past the necessary losses of her and my childhood and became strong emotional supports for each other. During the last few years, dementia overtook much of what was best in mom, her wit, her love of learning and her interest in the larger world. But dementia also freed her from her life-long fears and their ability to impact her and in turn me. Her last years were spent in a lovely, warm family home where I could sit with her and experience the relief from anxiety so rarely felt by her in earlier years. After months of not uttering a word, I sat with her last Friday, looking out onto the beautiful backyard of her home and as I held her hand she would look at me and smile. I said how much I loved seeing her happy and not afraid. She looked up at me and said "yeah". She died peacefully in her sleep two days later. I live more peacefully because of that moment.
With love for her and from her channeled to you – John


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  • Created by: J
  • Added: 4 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100125035
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Picton Montgomery (23 Sep 1918–2 Oct 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100125035, ; Maintained by J (contributor 46897785) Unknown.