A Sacred Moment


Betty Layne Beske

September 05, 1936 - March 14, 2008

Betty was a bold and beautiful force of life

Betty Layne BESKE Born September 5, 1936 and died peacefully with her loved ones at her side on March 14, 2008. Betty lived with courage, exuberance, and adventure, embracing life's bounty and overcoming many adversities with determination and grace. Betty was born in Wayland, KY, and lived with her coal miner father, Joseph Layne, mother, Symbolene Jones, and younger twin brothers, Ron and Don. The family moved to Newport News, VA during WWII where her father worked in the U.S. Naval Shipyards. After the war, the family moved to Detroit, MI, where Joe worked on the assembly line at the Hudson Automobile Company. The family moved again in 1948 to Phoenix, AZ where Betty finished high school and married Douglas Bruce Roughton in 1954. Two years later, Betty gave birth to a son, Douglas Bruce ("Dougie"), who had Down syndrome. Shortly after Dougie's birth, the family moved to Seattle to be close to Betty's husband's relatives. Resources for children with special needs were scarce at that time, and few people understood or appreciated the nature or complexity of raising a special needs child. In 1960, Betty gave birth to a daughter, Robin (Fleming). Betty and Douglas divorced in 1961, and Betty worked multiple jobs to single-handedly support her two children. While working at the College Club, she met Harold Anderson, the clerk of the U.S. District Court, who offered her a job in his office. She gladly accepted, but continued to work at the College Club, as well as taking courses at the local community college to try to enhance her employability in order to support her family. When Dougie was five, he was moved from the wait list and was accepted into the Rainier School in Buckley, WA where his special needs could be better addressed. In 1971, Betty married Thomas Fleming. Although the marriage lasted only five years, Tom legally adopted Robin, Betty's daughter, and remains her father to this day. On the work front, Betty's career improved when her job at the court led to a position as court clerk to federal judge Morell E. Sharp. It was a job Betty relished, observing fascinating cases, and using her prodigious organizational skills to administer Judge Sharp's large caseload. Betty worked for Judge Sharp for nine years before he died in 1980. In the same year, Betty married Richard Beske, living with him, and his two youngest sons, Peter and Joel Beske, of whom he had custody. Richard's oldest son, Mike, was no longer a minor. Betty was a warm and kind stepmother to all of Richard's boys. While continuing to work full time and manage a growing family, Betty went back to school and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in legal administration to enhance her job skills in preparation for her move to Washington, D.C., where Richard's job relocated them. She initially worked for the U.S. Congress in an administrative capacity for six months, and then worked for Judge William M. Drennen of the U.S. Tax Court until her retirement in 1992. Betty and Richard moved back to Seattle - her favorite city in the world - the same year. Although Betty's life was too short, she did enjoy a retirement rich with activity, travel, gourmet cooking, writing, drawing, and decorative painting. She was an enthusiastic lifelong learner, taking courses in computing technology and art. She enjoyed genealogical research and desktop publishing, combining both skills to produce her own cookbook and family genealogy, tracing her ancestry back to Lord Burley (Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I). Betty enjoyed warm winters in San Diego and summers in Seattle. She reserved her greatest passions for her grandchildren, and particularly enjoyed introducing them to historic Seattle landmarks and making individually customized Christmas ornaments for them each year. Betty is survived by her husband of 27 years, Richard Beske; her daughter Robin Fleming (Bernie Russell); stepsons Peter, Joel, and Mike (Leah) Beske; grandsons Thomas and Taylor Russell, and Calen, Kurt, and Quinn Beske. Betty was predeceased by her son, Douglas Roughton, and her brothers, Ron and Don Layne. Betty was a bold and beautiful force of life whose brilliance will never be extinguished. She will be forever loved and missed.


A Memorial Service celebrating Betty's life will be held April 5 at the Shoreline Unitarian Church, 14724 First Avenue NE, Shoreline, WA 98155

A Celebration of Betty's life will also be held in San Diego on April 19th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 PM at Dick and Betty's home.


Contributions can be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 1332 N. Halsted, St., S-201, Chicago, IL 60622, for which we and Betty "Thank You."



As you danced in the light with joy,
love lifted you. As you brushed against
this world so gently, you lifted us.

T.C. Ring























Betty - Beautiful Spirit

Betty Layne Beske, of Seattle & San Diego, returned to Spirit March 14 in Seattle, from Pulmonary Fibrosis & added complications from pneumonia. Borne a coal miner's daughter in KY, 9/05/36, the family (consisting of father Joseph, mother Symbolene & younger twin brothers Ron & Don) moved to Newport News, VA, during the war years & later to Detroit for post-war employment. The family later moved to AZ where Betty spent most of her teen years growing up.

Marriage to Douglas Roughton bore a son, Dougie (afflicted with Down Syndrome), and several years later after moving to Seattle, a beautiful, healthy daughter, Robin (Fleming). Dougie's extraordinary needs made him eligible for admission to the Rainier School, Buckley, W A, by which time Betty was divorced and the sole family support. Working multiple jobs, she was offered employment at the U.S. District Court, beginning a 30-year career with the federal court system. She later married Tomas Fleming who adopted Robin, & continues as her father after the parents divorced. At the District Court Betty began a 9-year working relation with Judge Morell Sharp as in-court clerk, trying the broad spectrum of cases coming before federal judges including the first case tried under the RICO statutes.

Betty married Richard Beske, which included step-mothering two of Dick's sons who were still at home - something she'd vowed never to do. A year later the couple relocated to Washington, D.C., as empty nesters and began new phases in their respective careers. After a brief stint as a Congressional staffer (without meaningful duties), she found employment at the U.S Tax Court for Judge Wm Drennen, where she remained until retirement in 1992.

Uncertain how long they would remain in D.C., they took every opportunity to be tourists throughout the Atlantic Seaboard from Canada to the Caribbean. Learning that she was eligible for the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Colonial Dames, she joined both and expanded her genealogical research tracing her ancestry back to Lord Burghley, Chancellor (Prime Minister) to Queen Elizabeth I. Dick & Betty subsequently visited Burghley Castle, delighted that she never inherited the place!

Returning to Seattle after retirement, Betty began a variety of artistic & creative endeavors for which she had lacked time while employed: decorative painting, drawing, creating her own cookbook, computer graphics projects, yearly customized Christmas ornaments for each of the five grandchildren, and numerous decorator creations for their two homes in Seattle and San Diego. Her recipes were printed in Bon Appetit and Southern Living. She loved to entertain dinner guests with new recipe creations, after first trying them on Dick. She continued to function as Dick's right hand in his various volunteer activities as his editor, desk¬top publisher, correspondence yeoman and computer-graphics creator, to name but a few.

They continued to travel in retirement with trips to Spain, Italy, France, Turkey, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, plus a few cruises, and travel around the US. Betty & Dick were about as perfectly matched as two people could be: two Virgos who achieved more together and individually than they could have without each other. For the past 9 years they divided their time equally between their winter home in San Diego and summer home in Seattle. A home funeral/vigil was held for Betty at their Seattle home March 16.

Betty was a bold & beautiful force in life who's creativity, class and spirit affected all with whom she came in contact. We all miss you, Sweetheart! ... Terribly.

Char BarrettBComment