On Remembrance Day this year, on the eve of a full and autumn moon, Betty S. Green died on Nov. 22. Born Betty Mae Sanders on April 7, 1938, her 81 years here with us left an impression so profound that all who knew her will remember her well.
Her kindness, her faith, her philanthropy all worked to mold a woman born during the Great Depression.
She had little as a child from Yuma, Ariz., her father James Woodrow Sanders was a farm hand, and her mother Lillian Dolores Garrett was a housewife.
But material possessions were never the mark of this woman who worked with the needy in Africa and Baja. If she had only a little money, she would share that pittance with someone in greater need. She loved her family with a fiery passion.
Betty Mae, the mother of four children, sadly lost two sons gone before her. Early on she fought for a way to raise her children as a single mother, earned her nursing and bachelor’s degrees and became a surgical nurse, a career that lasted over forty years. In other words, she worked tirelessly in a helping profession for half her life.
She knew the value of a dollar but realized that money is not what makes us human; rather it is a means to an end only and she used what she had to inspire others to better themselves through goodness, charity, and love.
Betty lived most of her adult life in Calimesa.
Her marriage in 1956 to Helmer Kompelien ended early and so she knew she needed a way to provide for her children. She enrolled in college and studied until she achieved what it was she set out to do: she graduated from San Jacinto with her Licensed Vocational Nursing credential in 1974. In 1978, she was a member of the first graduating class at College of the Desert earning her RB. She later graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of science degree in Health Sciences in 1991. She worked at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital for over 40 years.
This achievement is commendable.
Her determination to move forward in life to care for her offspring was nothing less than a mother’s desire to do the best she could for her family, no easy feat for a Depression-era girl. As a surgical nurse, she needed precise, technical skills and these she perfected over decades.
She was an asset to healthcare. All who worked with her lauded her professionalism.
She married her second husband James Green in 1975.
Beyond her career, Betty fostered other interests.
For decades, she was an active member of the Church of Christ in Beaumont. Her philanthropy echoed over the course of her life through her work at the church, on missions, and as “Nurse Betty” at Camp Tanda in Big Bear.
To this camp, she brought her children and grandchildren who enjoyed many a summer in this beautiful mountain setting.
Christian values were taught at camp through wonderful activities during school vacation.
She traveled a bit for pleasure in her lifetime, visiting New York and Scotland.
Beyond her journeys, Betty spent recent years working on memory albums for her grandchildren.
Her granddaughter, Jerrah, helped her compile these books along with envelopes filled with photos for each grandchild, images lovingly chosen to reflect each child’s experiences growing up.
Betty tooted her own horn as a member of the Yuma High School Band. She played the clarinet and was proud to belong to the infamous YHS “Criminals.”
Every single grandchild of Betty’s lived with her at one point or another. She stepped up when needed and never flinched when called upon to help.
Grandmother stood in high esteem in the children’s eyes for she was by their sides every step of the way and never faltered in her love for them.
Betty was a witty woman who often surprised her caretakers with comical retorts as those who nursed her over her last days will attest.
She was a strong woman, forged to strength through life’s trials and tribulations.
Her look alone could silence a room. The hospice nurses who looked after her as she battled cancer found her to be energetic and bright. The nurses often shared with family member humorous anecdotes about Betty’s daily activities. Her helpers recall her fondly, as do those of us left to remember her.
Betty loved the Bible quote II Timothy 1:7: “For God hath not given the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
In this spirit do we commit our mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend to the earth: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Betty is preceded in death by her two sons Jerald T. Kompelien and Jeffrey M. Kompelien.
She is survived by her daughter Janet K. Rey of Calimesa and her son Jay Stephen Kompelien of Lake Arrowhead; sister Patricia Sanders Pope of Hemet; and niece Brenda Frisby of Hemet; 10 grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren.
Services were held at the Beaumont Church of Christ in Beaumont on Nov. 22.