Betty Jane Ashwill
Betty Jane Ashwill
  • July 18, 1922 - March 16, 2017
  • Richland Hills, Texas

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Betty Jane Moore Ashwill, 94, died early Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Fort Worth, Texas. She had six children, 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She was known as Betty, mommy, mom, grandma and mom-mommy by those who loved her.

This is her story, shared by her children:

Betty was born on her family's farm near Aullville, Missouri, on July 18, 1922, to Mildred Dyer Moore and Edwin Arnett Moore. She remembered walking through the fields at the farm. She had a pony, something most of us kids wanted when we were young.

Mildred died when Mom was 5, and she and her sister Colleen, then 3, moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to live with her fraternal grandparents while her father found work other than farming. She and her sister spent the summers with her aunt, Mary Vina Dyer Farley in Grain Valley, Missouri, where she and her husband Paul were teachers. Grandfather Moore eventually worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1929 on the Bagnell Dam, which created the Ozarks, while Mom and Colleen grew up in the city.

In years when she had what we would think were "old-fashioned" views on life, we had to remember that she was raised by people who were adults before the turn of 1900.

Mom told stories of playing with her sister in the back stairwell of the house with cousins who lived in a third-floor apartment. She and her sister wore long cotton socks when they went to school, which they rolled down into pretty fat bobby socks, so they wouldn't look so outdated.

When they were teenagers, She and Colleen went to live with their Dad and Irene, his new wife, in Kansas City.

Mom graduated from high school when she was 16 and went to work for the phone company in Kansas City. She met Vincent Corwin Ashwill at a church friend's party where the party goers helped take down wallpaper in the girl's bedroom and then wrote on the walls. Mom was voted cutest girl at the party, and, as she said, "All the other girls were jealous!" Among other things during their courtship, they would ride their bicycles to the famous Swope Park.

Vince, who later became our Dad, joined the U.S. Army Air Forces after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In 1943, she took a train with her sister and Dad's mom to the base at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to marry him on June 2. She told Grandmother Ashwill "that she better not cry" at the wedding. Mom wore a navy blue suit, since wedding gowns were in short supply during the war. Dad wore his uniform.

On Feb. 25, 1944, she gave birth to their first child, Sandra Colleen, with her sister Colleen, now a nurse, by her side. Dad was overseas for that birth, and the birth of Vincent Corwin Jr. (aka, Vin and Vince). They wanted six kids, and when Dad returned from the war, four more followed: Teresa Lynn, Russell Edwin, Vickie Deanne and Debra Jayne.

When we were growing up in West Des Moines, Iowa, or Farmers Branch, Texas and later, Hurst, Texas, we all experienced Mom in our own way.

She rescued us. One summer when Vince Jr. was the bicycling ice cream man in West Des Moines, a huge storm came and knocked down the tree in our backyard. She grabbed the younger kids, threw us in the back of the red Rambler station wagon, and we drove street after street until we found him sitting it out in someone's garage.

We had a fair share of cuts and falls that needed bandages or stitches, from Debbie hitting her head on a car after falling and being rushed to get stitches, to Russ playing with a chemistry set and coming out of his room with blood pumping from his hand. Same rush to get stitches.

She took care of us when we were sick. Teresa remembers the tea and toast that came with a sick day home from school. She helped us at school. When Russ' first grade teacher said he couldn't do the work, Mom figured out that he needed glasses to see the chalkboard. Debbie remembers as a child that she was afraid of a giant bug, but Mom held her and showed her that it was a hummingbird.

We had the best Christmases with presents piled high under and around the tree, even when there wasn't a lot of money. We could open our stockings very early after begging to get up, but Mom made us eat breakfast and get dressed before Dad handed out presents one by one.

She cooked for us. In the days when money was short, we had things like meatloaf or potato soup, or sometimes pancakes for dinner. It took a long time to cook pancakes for eight people, so it was only a dinnertime treat.

She perfected Grandmother Ashwill's 1-2-3-4 cake with divinity icing. She was the iconic Midwest pie maker and perfected apple dumplings that Russ wanted for every birthday. She would sometimes start making a lemon meringue pie at 10 p.m. after Dad came home from a business trip. She taught Vince Jr.'s wife Jean to make pie crust like an Ashwill in the late 1960s, which for those at home, was a great week of pies. And we all have copies of her best recipes in her own cookbook.

She hated cupboard doors left open, and on occasion, Dad would open all the kitchen cupboard doors as a joke. We all sat in the other room laughing as we heard Mom slam each one shut. Then there were times that Dad took Mom around the kitchen as if it were the dance floor.

She loved parties and talking, especially when she got together with her sister. In the 1980s, Mom, her sister and a friend visited Vickie in Wisconsin and laughed and talked and drank well into the night on Vickie's deck. They were hilarious.

She was a craftsperson and an artist, taking up oil painting in the 1960s, painting