I recently returned from a quick trip to Fort Morgan, Colorado for the funeral Mass and burial of my grandmother. She was 94 years old when she passed away. Gabriel and Siena joined my wife and I for the trip. Gabriel was a fantastic little traveler, making the trip at 5 weeks old, the same age Siena was when we attended my uncle’s burial here in 2008.
Though my grandmother lived in Fort Morgan for many years, she moved to California in the early 1990s, so I had the benefit of growing up with her nearby. One of my fondest memories was our joint effort planning and planting the Japanese garden and koi pond at my parents’ house. I had previously built the pond and waterfalls with my father but I greatly benefited from her gardening experience and critical eye when landscaping the garden.
The burial provided an opportunity for us to connect with our extended family and introduce them to the new addition. Gabriel was amazingly calm for the entire trip. He was quiet during the funeral mass and didn’t mind the affection and attention he received afterward. While I knew my grandmother as Mater, Siena knew her as Great Grandma Gee Bee. I am grateful that our previous trips to California allowed Siena to spend time with her great grandmother. Siena’s presence also brought her joy during these visits. As Mater was lowered into the ground, Siena quietly said, “I’m really going to miss Grandma Gee Bee”. Yes, she will be missed.
With serenity and surrounded by her family, Germaine Bettale, age 94, passed away Thursday, May 24, 2013. A pillar of strength, love and devotion to her Catholic faith, she leaves an indelible impact on all family and friends whose lives she touched.
Germaine was born February 10, 1919 in Garden Plains, Kansas to Michael Klausner and Cecelia (Tillie) Kampling. After farming in Kansas, the Klausner family pioneered on the High Plains in 1918, breaking sod in Roggen, Colorado. The settlers worked together to establish a prairie church and school which became the centerpiece of their new community. The Klausner family was instrumental in this difficult endeavor. The building that would eventually become their church was originally located nearby in a dry creek bed, vacant and unused. With a team of horses and wooden poles, they dragged the building inch-by-inch for three miles across the frozen tundra to a suitable site. They later built a school on the same site. The first experimental irrigation well in Weld County was sunk in 1929 on the family farm. Preceding her in death were one brother, Anthony Klausner of Wichita, KS and three sisters: Magdeline (Shoeneman) of Lyons, CO, Rose (died as a toddler), and Augusta (Erker) of Longmont, CO.
At the age of 18, Germaine married Antonio Bettale on August 16, 1937. Six children were born from this union: Richard of Longmont, CO, Steven (deceased) of Phoenix, AR, Celeste Hall (Ron) of Petaluma, CA, Kevin (Michal) of Butte, MT, Gail (Rod Hagge) of Santa Rosa, CA and Patrick (deceased) of Santa Rosa, CA. She is survived by 9 grandchildren: Toni Kline, Christina Piland, Brian Bettale, Sarah Brester, Patrick Bettale, Erin Eastep, Dominic Bettale, Lance Hagge, and Antonio Bettale. She is also survived by 16 great-grandchildren.
The Bettales started farming in 1937 in the Roggen-Keensburg, CO area using borrowed horses and used equipment. Through hard work and perseverance, they built a fine modern farm and ranch operation. From this original farm they purchased Broad Acres Farms near Pueblo, Colorado in 1952 where they had 5200 acres of dry land under wheat cultivation. Successive years of torrid weather ravaged the wheat crops with winds of 100 miles per hour and chunks of hail that destroyed machinery, buildings and crops.
Difficult times were always tendered by her faith in God.
In 1955, they purchased a 4000 acre farm/ranch near Fort Morgan, CO where they raised sugar beets, grains, and corn. They ran herds of Angus and Hereford cattle on the range, and bred and raced thoroughbred horses. After her husband’s death in 1970, Germaine continued to run the ranch. Later, she moved into town and became part-owner of a frame shop. Here she merged her creativity with her passion for art and found fulfillment working with color and presentation.
Upon retirement, Germaine moved to Loveland, CO and in 1989, she relocated to Sonoma County, CA to be near her children.
Germaine will be remembered as a gifted artist in mini mosaics. She taught elementary school during the WWII years. Other activities included the Altar Society of her churches (Sacred Heart in Roggen, CO and St. Helena in Fort Morgan, CO), Cowbells, Wheat Growers Association, Elks ladies auxiliary, and member of the wheat Co-op and Grange.
She will be fondly remembered for her warm heart, compassion, love of family and friends, her tenacity, strength, gracious mannerisms, artistic ability, keen wit and sense of humor.
A funeral mass, graveside services and reception will be held at St. Helena’s Catholic Church, located at 917 West Seventh Street in Fort Morgan, Colorado Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 10:30A.M.