Betty Jean Kissee Strickland Lawson-
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Betty Jean Kissee Strickland Lawson
1927 ~ 2015
Our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, and queen “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God” on October 29, 2015, in Eagle Mountain, UT, after a lifelong battle with pulmonary disease. She was born August 26, 1927, in Frontenac, KS, as the only blessed child to Josephine Ambrozic and Troy Kissee.
Have you ever known a true saint, not one made from mandates or feelings of obligation, but one who truly always wanted to do what was right…just for the sake of doing right? That was Mom. From early childhood, she sought truth and cleaved unto to it. She was responsible for searching for the truth about God, and found it in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She taught us, her children, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and loved it, not to impress anyone or to aspire to some position, but simply because she knew it was the right thing to do. She was naturally wise, and we have learned to listen to her counsel because she seemed to have a direct telephone line to the heavens. When we haven’t listened to her, we suffered the consequences. Mom was full of emotional love for her family. She was extremely proud to “show and tell” her love. She always taught us the importance of this principle.
Although her parents weren’t able to attend college, they encouraged her to study and obtain a college degree. She graduated from Pittsburg State College in Pittsburg, KS (now Pittsburg State University), taught at Arma High School (Arma, KS) and taught for many years at Putnam City High School (Oklahoma City, OK) in the subjects of English, Home Economics and Family Relations. Everyone knew that “Home Ec.” was NOT an easy class from Mrs. Strickland; however, if you wanted to learn how to cook, have fun with learning about nutrition, or even plan and carry out a wedding, then sign up for Mrs. Strickland’s class.
She taught her students how to plan, arrange, and run a complete mock wedding reception, using the students as the wedding party. The school district administrators and parents played the part of the wedding guests. Students even wore formal wedding attire (Mom worked for months obtaining donations from local providers). She taught the children to create beautifully decorated reception tables, complete with wedding cake, punch and foods of all kinds. She even taught wedding customs of many faiths and ensured that a pastor was present at the mock wedding. The reason for all of this extra effort was simply because she loved her students and wanted to be the best possible teacher for those who held the future in their hands. She received an Oklahoma State Education award for this innovative program.
She also taught students who later became leaders of the State of Oklahoma, the United States, professional football and basketball players, and many other significant contributors to society. And yes, she made all of them correctly write English grammar in their Home Economics class assignments (something that upset some parents). Again, she didn’t care because she knew it was the right thing to do.
Although she didn’t ever want to work outside her home, she was wise and knew the importance of being prepared for when a disaster strikes (and it did). Again, she was always doing the right thing just because it was the right thing to do. Not very many people like this have existed in the world but we, her children and extended family, were privileged to have her influence in our lives.
In 2014, she received the Utah Society for Respiratory Care’s Community Benefit Award for her active lobbying on Utah’s Capitol Hill for legislation against tobacco.
She had many significant accomplishments, but as she would say for herself if she could, her greatest accomplishment and joy was the opportunity to spend lots of quality time with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and dear friends of all ages. One way of demonstrating her dedication was by sewing and embroidering beautiful clothing for us and even for friends she loved.
One of her greatest enjoyments was to take us out to eat (nearly a daily occurrence with at least one of us), and hosted sleepovers and parties that were always intricately planned to ensure we all had a wonderful time.
Suffice it to say that the world has returned one of its most precious daughters to her Heavenly King, which is truly a royal occasion.
She is preceded in death by: her beloved parents and family-in-law, her Uncle Joe (like a brother), and her husbands, Gilbert W. Strickland and Shirley “Slim” Lawson. She is survived by: her children-Marc (Linda) Strickland of Niceville, FL; Kim (Kent) Bennion of Eagle Mountain, UT; Shannon (Mercedes) Strickland of Salt Lake City, UT; more than 30 grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and of course, the smallest of all her children…her little baby puppy and companion of almost 15 years…Shotzy.
Although we are extremely sad at her passing and will miss the many fun times we’ve shared with her, like literally globetrotting with her to many places in the world, we are 100% sure that she is with all of her loved ones that she has missed for many years. The family would like to thank all of those at the offices of Dr. Kurt F. Francis, Dr. Phil Roberts, and Intermountain Healthcare Home Health and Hospice for the meticulous service provided to this most wonderful woman. Betsy and Leah, you were a blessing from heaven. She came to love and trust you as her in-home caregivers. The family would also like to thank the Sage Valley Ward Priest Quorum (and the ward members in general) for providing her with the weekly sacred ordinance of the sacrament, visits, and Christ-like service during her final months.
Friends and family are invited to visit on Thursday, November 5, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Valley View ward building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (9475 Mustang Way, Eagle Mountain, UT). Friends and family are also invited to attend a celebration of our queen’s life during funeral services at the same location at 11:00 a.m., directly following the visitation. Interment will be at Riverton City Cemetery (Riverton, UT). Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Affordable Funerals & Cremations. The family wants to thank Irene, Mike and the staff for their impeccable service during this difficult time.