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Elizabeth "Betty" Thompson

1924 - 2012, Goleta

Betty Thompson passed away peacefully at her home at Heritage House in Goleta on October 31, 2012.

Betty was born in Loma, Nebraska, on July 12, 1924. She was the fifth of eleven children, and she grew up working on her parents’ farm and helping raise her younger siblings.

Betty boldly moved to Los Angeles when she graduated from high school and worked with her sister as a waitress at a Hollywood restaurant. In 1948, she married Earl “Bud” Thompson, who had just returned from two years of military service in Europe. They honeymooned at the Hotel Santa Barbara on State Street.

After the birth of her only child, Betty became a full-time mother and community volunteer. She and Bud enjoyed many happy years with a group of very close neighbors in Panorama City, a suburb of Los Angeles. The family took summer trips to visit relatives in Nebraska and Oregon. Betty and Bud also made cross-country driving trips as well as numerous cruises.

After Bud passed away in 1993, Betty learned to live alone, and she discovered 5- and 10-kilometer races, winning fourteen trophies for being the fastest in her age group! Betty moved to Santa Barbara in 1998. She lived in Rancho Santa Barbara for 12 years, where she met Russ Johnston, who became her dearest and most loyal companion. Russ introduced her to classical music and opera through classes which he taught.

Betty was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1999, and it progressed relatively slowly. She was hardly sick a day in her life before then and said she “had never taken any pills.” She was able to live alone until 2010, when she moved to Heritage House.

Everyone who knew Betty found her to be generous, warm, kind and caring. She bore the burden of her disease with patience and dignity. Until the last months, she exercised daily with free weights and on a stationary bike and participated in many programs at Heritage House.

Betty is survived by her son Dennis Thompson, daughter-in-law Lois Phillips- Thompson, step-granddaughter Tracy Seifert and her husband Randy Seifert of Oakland, step-grandson Craig Phillips and his partner Madge Miller of San Francisco, and her dear friend Russ Johnston. Her family thanks the wonderful staff and residents of Heritage House and Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care personnel for their compassionate attention.

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