On Wednesday evening November 25th, Gallipolis lost one of their best sons at age 94, James Neal (Jim) Betz. He left us the same day as his first love and first wife Barbara Jane (Woods) Betz, 41 years ago. Jim is survived by his second wife Opal Betz of 36 years and is also remembered by her children, Bill (Emrys), Sandy Marroquin (Ralph) and Jocelyn Topping (Brian) and their families. Dad has been a lifelong resident of Gallipolis.
On Thanksgiving, we received and email from one of Dad’s Episcopal Church youth group members Frank Titus, who himself is an accomplished attorney with an extensive military career. Frank wrote; “Jim Betz graduated from Gallia Academy High School in 1944 at the age of 18 and was immediately drafted into the U.S. Army. The Army wanted to discharge him as he was underweight at only 115 pounds. Jim convinced the Army to keep him and he went on to graduate from Basic Combat Training and then from the Jungle Warfare School at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, Hawaii. He fought in the Battle of Okinawa which began on April 1, 1945 that claimed the lives of 5,000 U.S. Navy sailors, 8,000 U.S. Army troops and 3,000 U.S. Marines. 110,000 Japanese troops lost their lives in this battle.”
But Jim’s brief military career is a microcosm of the man, his life, and his legacy. Barb and Jim were high school sweethearts and married shortly thereafter. Jim began working at the Gallipolis Post Office upon return from World War II, eventually becoming assistant postmaster until retirement at age 55.
Jim will be remembered for his extensive and unwavering dedication to youth, especially through St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Southern Ohio. He led the church youth group for many years and drew teenagers from several counties in the region. He served multiple terms on church vestry and had previously been Senior and Junior Wardens. He was nominated and attended multiple diocesan conventions and appointed to two national conventions. He worked tirelessly for years at the Vinton County Episcopal Church Camp as caretaker.
Jim loved to sing! He, along with so many friends, would gather around the kitchen table and sing gospel hymns. He was a member of the church choir and the local barbershop chorus, the “Treblemakers”. We were singing in his room when he peacefully passed.
Two children survive, Tim (Jan) Betz and Sally (Angie Allion) Betz. Dad has two grandsons, Adam (Vicky) Betz, and Andy (Jenni) Betz. He lost his first great grandchild, Celia Eleanor Betz shortly before her fifth birthday. Six amazing great grandchildren survive, Vanessa Betz, Tucker Betz, Zane Betz, Tolliver Betz, Hendrix Betz and Hank Betz. Despite COVID, they were all able to have some fun visits with their great grandpa in 2020.
In addition to his lifelong membership with St. Peter’s, Episcopal Church, Jim was a life member of Elks Lodge # 107 for the past 68 years, member of the local VFW and Gold Circle Member of the VFW and retired member of the American Postal Workers Union.
Family relations were always embedded in the fabric of who Jim was and he is fondly remembered by them including, Ron Keenan, Larry Betz, Tom Keenan, Pam Ellwanger, John Betz, Susie and Sonie Phalin, and Lezah Preston. He also had a lifelong special relationship with Tim Linkhorn.
There was an amazing peace revealed as Jim’s spirit passed…. May we all capture the piece that he would want us to have and may we strive to live up to his legacy. His love and the love of the family will endure forever. “To Canaan’s Land I’m on My Way “ … father and friend.
Donations in honor of Jim made be made to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Gallipolis Ohio or Batten Disease Support and Research Association (2780 Airport Drive #342; Columbus, OH 43219
There will be a private graveside service for Jim and he will be laid to rest in Mound Hill Cemetery.
Waugh-Halley-Wood Funeral Home is assisting the family.
Memories and condolences can be shared at waugh-halley-wood.com
Barbara Jane Woods Betz
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