Betty Jo Stephenson
July 21, 1947 - August 15, 2016
Because Betty Jo Stephenson (née Chavez, July 21st, 1947) was immortal, we were not prepared for her death by cancer on August, 15th. Once aptly described as "a force of nature," Betty Jo energetically attacked injustice wherever she saw it. She broke up playground fights, taught women self-defense, volunteered politically, and helped the disadvantaged both locally and in war-ravaged Burundi. Thousands of her students have learned to care for the world beyond themselves thanks to her guidance, and her children and grandchildren learned early on that although they might be the center of her universe, they are not the center of the universe.
We are bereft. Her death is the greatest injustice any of us have ever endured. She lives on, however, in the hearts of those she leaves behind: Jim, her beloved husband who even at the end, looked in her eyes with love and received her smile in return. Her sisters and brothers, Teri (Richard), Shirley, Danny (Elaine), and Steve (Gayle), who shared so many memories with her and hoped to make more. Her son and daughter, Christopher and Tanya, who are grateful for every bit of themselves that echoes her, and their spouses Soleena and Toby, who loved her as their own. Her stepdaughters Alexis and Erin, and their husbands Owen and Jimmy, all of whom she adopted into her heart and was lucky to have. Her many cherished grandchildren, Jayce, Nate, Rose, Rylan, Violet, Owen, and baby Noelle, who made her smile in her last days. Her numerous aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, many of whom she had special relationships with. She also leaves many dear and loyal friends, including her soul sister, Gail, who supported her through both sickness and health and--with her family--mourn her loss.
As Rose protested when Betty Jo first became ill, "She's the center of our family! What will we do?" It is a question we all now share.
A service and potluck tea will be held Sunday, August 21st at the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church (8109 224th St. SW, Edmonds, WA) at 2:30.