Obituary - Betty Benson

Betty Benson

Longtime Jackson resident Betty Benson died June 22 at her home in Jackson. She was 98. Her family provided the following.

Betty Joe Kiholm was born Oct. 29, 1922, in Salmon, Idaho. She was the second daughter of James Kiholm and Jessie Crofts Kiholm. She had a 1 1/2-year-old sister, Darlene.

Within her first few years, Betty’s family moved to Salt Lake City for a time and then to Pocatello, where her parents separated and divorced. Darlene and Betty went to live with their grandmother in Shelley, Idaho, for four years while their mother traveled to various locations to work as a waitress.

In 1933 Jessie and her girls moved to Jackson to work. Both Betty and Darlene graduated from Jackson-Wilson High School. When Betty was a sophomore in high school she went to work as a secretary for Teton County’s only attorney, Wilford Nielson.

When Tommy Benson first tried to date Betty, she was not interested. Eventually she said yes, but then brought two or three friends along so she wouldn’t have to be alone with him. Tommy and Betty were married right after she graduated from high school.

Betty worked as a clerk for the draft board at the beginning of the draft for World War II and stayed in that position under Harry Clissold, Harry Barker Sr. and Margaret Stead.

Betty and Tommy went to work at the Snake River Ranch, where Betty cooked at the bunkhouse for the ranch crew.

In 1944 Tommy and Betty and their two daughters Carole and Barbara went to Los Angeles so Tommy could attend mortuary college. Both Tommy and Betty worked — Tommy at a defense plant at night and Betty at the shipyards. Upon returning to Jackson, Tommy continued to work and Betty took care of the children and kept house. They added four more children to the family: Linda, Jerry, Sharon and Dennis. Their family was then complete. Dennis died in 2009.

Tommy and Betty have owned and operated several businesses in Jackson. They bought the mortuary from the Jackson Mercantile, had a floor covering store and later added furniture. Eventually they purchased the Jackson Mercantile and changed the name to Benson’s Home Furnishings and Hardware. Betty has always been the bookkeeper and helped in the hardware store.

Tommy and Betty loved to dance and won some dance contests, including a waltz competition. They were active members of the square dance club. They also became avid arrowhead hunters and collected hundreds of points from various locations throughout the northwest United States.

Betty loved to play cards and was still participating in this activity until just a few weeks before her death. She was a member of the “Birthday Club” of Jackson Hole.

Many people who knew Betty referred to her as “Betty Crocker” because of her exceptional baking skills. She was pretty famous locally for her homemade angel food cakes, her delicious pies, and her amazing cinnamon and dinner rolls. In April of 2001, Betty cooked dinner for 38 family members to celebrate Tommy’s 85th birthday.

Tommy died in 2002 and Betty spent a lot of time with friends, especially at the Senior Center in Jackson. She usually at lunch there and went back frequently to play cards as long as she was able. She went on a few trips with family. She frequently baked pies, cinnamon rolls or other “treats” to share with friends.

Betty was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until her health in recent years prevented her from attending church meetings.

Tommy and Betty were married 62 years before Tommy’s death in 2002. Better is survived by her 100-year-old sister Darlene, five of her six children, Carole (John) Smith, Barbara Garrison, Linda Benson, Jerry Benson and Sharon Benson. Betty also leaves 13 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at the LDS church in Jackson.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Senior Center of Jackson Hole, P.O. Box 4677, Jackson, WY, 83001.

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