HAMILTON — Betty Irene Sorenson was born in Circle, Montana, on May 7, 1933, to Mark and Gertrude Jaques Sorenson. The young family grew with the birth of Betty’s brother, Don, on Oct. 19, 1934. The next year, the family moved to Alberton and so began a course of life long travel for Betty. The beginning of WWII took the Sorensons to Philadelphia and at the end of the war back to Montana, where they settled in Hamilton.
Betty and DeWayne Smith began dating in their senior year at Hamilton High School and were married the next spring on March 19, 1952. DeWayne had enlisted in the U.S. Navy and their first duty station was San Diego, followed by Honolulu, where daughter Linda was born, then Alameda, California, where daughters Carol and Susan were born. After that came Kodiak, Alaska, New Orleans, Lousiana, Imperial Beach, California, Bremerton, Washington, back to Imperial Beach, and again to Kodiak, then finally settling in Hamilton in 1970 while DeWayne finished his last tour and duty station in San Francisco, California, before retiring in 1971. The life of a Navy wife is never easy, but Betty met every move and every challenge with grace and made sure that each new community, new school, and especially that each new house felt like home.
All three of Betty and DeWayne’s daughters graduated from Hamilton High School, following in their parents’ footsteps. By the late 70s they were empty nesters and this gave them more time to spend at their beautiful East Fork property where they built a small cabin and created many friendships. Each trip to their paradise in the mountains and various other camping trips were more adventures in their lives.
By 1990, Betty and DeWayne became “snowbirds” and ventured south to the Arizona desert to spend their winters. They developed and nurtured many new relationships during these desert winters and spent over 25 years traveling and adventuring with their “Black Rock family.” Besides desert golf, dune buggy rides, geo-caching and the daily Happy Hour, Betty was a champion competitive darts player … and wallpapered their East Fork outhouse with all her awards!
Over the years, Betty was involved in Navy wives clubs, Beta Sigma Phi, the Federated Church in Hamilton, the Senior Center in Victor, Election Board volunteer, HHS Booster club, Corvallis Methodist Church and local Parkinson’s disease support groups.
Wherever they were, Betty and DeWayne stayed involved in all the happenings in the kids’, grandkids’ and great-grandkids’ lives, attending events and cheering on whenever possible. Over the past 10 years, Betty had three major back surgeries and then was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in early 2013, but she and DeWayne were still able to keep up their snowbird lifestyle for a few more years until the stress of traveling became too difficult. Despite these health issues, Betty found joy with her family, old friends and new, her faith community, outings with DeWayne, sharing hugs and kisses with all the “greats”, listening to Abigail and Austyn sing Grace before family dinners, and an occasional trip to Dairy Queen for a Heath Bar Blizzard!
They continued to visit their East Fork property, made a few more trips to Idaho and around Montana but their big adventures became shorter drives around their beautiful Bitterroot Valley.
Betty took her final journey in the early hours of July 20, 2019, one of her last words was “Home.”
Betty was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Don. She is survived by loving husband of 67 years, DeWayne of Hamilton; devoted daughters, Linda Smith of Rigby, Idaho; Carol (Todd) Van Bramer of Bellevue, Idaho, and Susan (Lonnie) Wetzsteon of Hamilton; grandchildren, Tracie (Bryon) Hope, Cory (Angela) Wetzsteon, Andy (Amanda) Wetzsteon and Hunter Van Bramer; great-grandchildren, Abigail and Austyn Wetzsteon, Hank, Evie and Saige Wetzsteon, Ashly Hope, McKenzie (Brittany) Hope and Taylor (Tyler) Hope; and great-great- grandchildren, Makiyah, Kaydan,Trinden, Brixleigh, Dreagan, Destiny, Rylee, and Matik.
Memorial services will be held at Daly Leach Memorial Chapel on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at 11 a.m., with a reception immediately following. Internment will take place at Riverview Cemetery after the reception. The family suggests memorial donations be made to your local Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, Corvallis Methodist Church, or Marcus Daly Hospice Center. Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com.