Elizabeth Louise (Betsy) Chapman Harrison died on May 2, 2018, in San Marcos, Texas. Betsy was born in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, on July 25, 1926.
The daughter of John A. and Mildred Chapman, Betsy was raised in Tulsa and Houston in a close knit family of six daughters and a son. She spoke of the happiness of growing up with a large family of whip smart siblings and a mother and father who expected them all to do well in school and go on to college. Betsy remembered fondly her father, who was in the oil business, taking her to north of Houston to look at the oil rigs his company owned. She also recalled hearing her parents praise her and her siblings as future Olympians when they swam in races at their local club.
After graduating high school at the age of sixteen, she turned down Rice University to return to Oklahoma and attend Oklahoma A&M. The school was so small at that time that the famous basketball coach, Hank Iba, would say hello to the Chapman sisters by name when he saw them walking across campus. One night at a campus political organizing meeting she met a handsome young man who had recently returned from serving his country in the Pacific Theater in World War II. After the meeting, Bill saw her again at the campus soda shop and went over to the booth that Betsy and her sister were sitting in to make conversation. Thereafter, he walked her to class every day until she married him five months later.
By the time Bill graduated from college, the young couple had their first child, Rick. While Betsy was majoring in French, she did not complete her studies before the young family moved to Leedey, Oklahoma in 1948. For twenty seven years in Leedey, Bill was the vocational agriculture teacher in the high school and Betsy managed the Leedey Lodge, the only motel in town.
Betsy and Bill expanded their family with two daughters and three more sons. Betsy surrounded her children with books and magazines that opened their minds to history, politics and discussions on the national stage. They gave their children the comfort of small town life in western Oklahoma, but raised them to go to college and seek their fortunes in the world.
In 1974, Bill left his teaching position in Leedey and took a position with the Oklahoma Vocational Association, representing the Association in coordination with the Oklahoma State Legislature. Bill and Betsy and their youngest daughter, Liz, moved to Edmond. After Bill’s retirement, they started an annual one week family gathering of all of their six children’s families, which has now extended to 38 years. Bill passed away in 1997. Thereafter, Betsy moved to Texas to begin the second major journey of her life.
Betsy’s home in San Marcos, Texas, became a gathering place, some would say a refuge, for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her home was a destination for her family spread across Texas and the expanse of the United States. To enter her home was to leave cares behind and enjoy the peace and comfort of her relaxed love and kindness. She was never happier than when her house was filled with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
When family was not around, Betsy stayed busy making many longtime friends, actively participating in the garden club, the bridge club and the book club. A passionate reader, Betsy also had a strong interest in politics and stayed current in all of the political events of the day.
In her later years, she was also a great traveler, visiting France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Scotland, and Spain, usually with family members. She was known to say, “I never turn down an invitation.” Since she was wonderful company, she received many.
Betsy was predeceased by her parents, her husband Bill, her eldest son Rick, her granddaughter Amber, her brother John and her sisters Barbara, Roberta, Mary, and Sally.
Betsy is survived by her sister Teresa, her daughter-in-law Linda and her companion Roger; Rick and Linda’s children Amy and her husband Steve and their children Libby, Janey, and Ryan; Melanie and her husband Ryan and their children Cohen and Jack; Ashley and her husband Conrad and their children Silas, Cecil, and Lou; her daughter Patty and her husband Curt and their child Eric and his wife Cheri and their children Aislinn and Sam; her son John and his wife Jo Ann and their children Jennifer and her husband Ken and their children Kyle and Katy; Kari and her husband Dave and their children Jackson and Wyatt; her son Jack and his wife Betsy and their children Amelia and her husband Karl and Will; her son Tom and his wife Gillian and children Beth and her husband Michael; Sarah and her daughter Reece, Marshall and his partner Treesa, Joshua and his partner Nana-Ama, Hunter, and Arabella; daughter Liz and her husband Pete and their children Matt and Mark. Also, extended family members Linda Claire Harrison and Vernon Webb, niece Kate Harrison Stearns, and Sarah Grafia and her sons Makoa and Kaleo, as well a host of wonderful friends.
Please send donations in lieu of flowers to the Leedey, Oklahoma Fire Department.
Saturday, May 05, 2018
Mt. Olive Cemetery
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