Betty Wilcox, 92, died Saturday, July 18, 2009, at her home in the Mountain Meadows Community at Ashland, Ore. She was born Elizabeth Irene Bufford on Nov. 17, 1916, near Kenwood, Calif., the daughter of Lawrence and Hettie Irene (Warboys) Bufford. She spent her childhood in Kenwood, San Francisco and on her father's poultry farm a little southwest of Santa Rosa, Calif. She attended Todd School, Santa Rosa High School (Valedictorian), Santa Rosa Junior College (Salutatorian) and earned a B.A. from the University of California-Berkeley in 1937. She was employed as a secretary for a number of years. She earned an M.A. from Syracuse University in 1962. In 1961 she began teaching in Syracuse, first at Delaware and then at Sumner Elementary Schools. From 1968 until her retirement in 1978, she taught in the Fabius-Pompey Elementary School.
Betty married Hugh E. Wilcox in her parents' garden on August 21, 1938. She was practical, resourceful and non-judgmental. She was able to draw out the best in others and to encourage their self-sufficiency, traits especially noted by her offspring. She found time to be a Campfire Girl leader while working and raising a family. At age 90 she was still reading with children in an elementary school. Betty was an intrepid traveler. As a child with her family, she hiked and camped in Yosemite National Park. In those days commercial camping gear was not available so her family fashioned their own. Later, with Hugh and her children, she criss-crossed the country numerous times, driving from Syracuse to California to visit relatives. They took different routes, seeing as many national parks and scenic areas as time allowed, camping along the way. They also lived in both Israel and Finland. In later years she and Hugh backpacked, canoed and hiked throughout the US and Canada, including Alaska and Hawaii, and Northwest Territories to the Arctic Circle. They also took wilderness trips in Belize, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. Favorite areas were the Grand Canyon and the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area. Her idea of the perfect time was to be in some beautiful remote area with Hugh, dependent on their own resources. To celebrate Hugh's 90th birthday, they hiked and pitched a tent in the California Redwoods.
Betty was a lifelong gardener. She and Hugh maintained an artistically landscaped one-acre garden in Syracuse for over 30 years, with an enormous variety of trees and flowers. She was a garden club member both in Syracuse and Ashland. She grew, canned and froze much of their food.
Betty also was a lifelong letter writer. She kept in touch with far-flung family members by writing informative and lively weekly letters for most of her life. She was a member of the Mountain Meadows Write Your Life group for many years.
She was predeceased by her three siblings: H. Virginia, James L., and John S. She is survived by her husband, Hugh; her children, Irene (Frank) Barmore, La Crosse, Wis.; Janet (Paul) Ievins, Vestal, N.Y.; Kenneth (Karen), Sacramento, Calif.; Luna (Joe) Bitzer, Ashland, Ore.; Carol Wilcox (Todd Folsom), Cary, N.C.; grandchildren Nathaniel and Christopher Barmore, Erik and Lydia Ievins, Hugh and Ethan Bitzer, and Katrina and Craig Folsom. A private funeral service was held at home, July 18th, conducted by her brother-in-law, Rev. Richard W. Wilcox.
Contributions in memory of Betty may be made to Southern Oregon Repertory Singers (SORS), P.O. Box 1091, Ashland, Oregon, 97520.
Arrangements: Litwiller-Simonsen Funeral Home, Ashland, Oregon.