Betty J. "BJ" Darling, 82, of Mountain Home, died peacefully on Thursday, Sept.18, 2008, at a local care center.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26, at Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel.
Betty "BJ" Darling was born on Aug. 28, 1926, in Wichita, Kan., at St. Francis Hospital to Maria Frances (Leven) and Lyman Otto Gray.
She was one of five children.
After graduating from high school she entered into the workforce.
She started working as a telephone operator at the Olympic Hotel (now the Fairmont Olympic Hotel) in Seattle, because it paid more than being an elevator operator. She was very proud of how her fingers could "fly across the plug board," her family noted.
Her career spanned the United States and including Puerto Rico.
During that time she had three children, Stephen Francis, Karen Marie and Deborah Jean.
She moved to Mountain Home Air Force Base in 1963 and worked as the chief telephone operator there. Several years later she transferred to the position of secretary for the Commanding Officer at FTD (Field Training Detachment). While working at FTD, she earned the honorary rank of sergeant. Sergeant Betty was the only woman among approximately 350 men who worked or attended classes at FTD. "Those that worked, attended or inspected FTD will tell you that she was famous for her Mexican food," her family said.
In 1969, she bought property in the mountains, located outside of Paradise Resort near Pine and Featherville,. In 1976, she built her cabin with the help of many friends and family. The cabin became her pride and joy where she spent weekends and holidays. Later, in 1980, she retired to live there permanently.
She enjoyed everything about the mountains, her family said, including hunting, fishing, boating, snowmobiling, watching the wildlife outside her windows (especially the family of hummingbirds), going for long nature walks and especially sitting with and entertaining her friends around her huge outdoor fire ring. "She will be remembered by many for the loving care she took of the trees around her cabin. She would spend endless hours pruning and spraying her Pines and Quakys, for a variety of 'killer' bugs," her family said.
In 1995, she lost her sight and was forced to sell her cabin and move back to Mountain Home.
"She greatly enjoyed cruising to Alaska, country music, and dancing," her family said. "She had a great passion for jewelry, especially earrings.
"Betty enjoyed working with her hands to make a variety of crafts; crocheting, dry flower arrangements, wall hangings, and fabric frames. Along with the amazingly beautiful photo albums she gave to family and friends for special occasions.
"She loved doing yard work and spending as much time as possible with friends and family. Her dogs were constant companions throughout her many years.
"Betty frequently referred to her 80th birthday party as being the 'party of the decade in Mountain Home'," her family said.
Her three grandchildren were her greatest treasures, they added.
She is survived by: her son, Stephen Anderson of Denver, Colo.; her daughter, Karen Marie Compton and her husband, Bill Teichman, of Nampa; her daughter, Debbie, and her husband, Jose Ibaibarriaga of Mountain Home; her three grandchildren, her step-grandson; her brothers, Stephen Gray and LD Gray of Ponca City, Okla., and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Myrl Darling, her older sister and her younger brother.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made, in Betty's name to: The Center for the Study of Macular Degeneration, Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93105-5060 (phone 805-896-4621).