Betty Lou Balcome was born August 19, 1927, and died March 25, 2023. Betty Lou was baptized as Elizabeth Louise by a strict, conservative, by the rules-Scottish Episcopal priest who would not baptize her as “Betty Lou”. He believed “Betty Lou” to be a “nickname”. Her parents were not happy but allowed him to baptize Betty Lou as Elizabeth Louise but said she would never be called that! Betty Lou only used Elizabeth Louise on a few legal documents and often said, “I should have legally changed my name to Betty Lou but I never did.” Betty Lou lived 95 years filling her days with music, teaching, gardening, volunteering, taking classes, reading, dancing, family, friends and God. She passed away peacefully at her ‘adopted by the heart” daughter’s home in Rochester, Minnesota, surrounded by only a few of those who, whom we know, loved and cherished her. Betty Lou was born and raised in Chatfield, MN. She graduated from Chatfield High School in 1945. She held her first teaching credentials from the Teacher’s Normal Training program in Austin, Minnesota. Later, she received her BST degree from Winona State. Her “Teacher’s License” allowed her to teach first grade through eighth grade.
Betty Lou was an only child. She was born to Percival (Percy) and Mary Alice (Gardner) Eaves. She had been married twice in her life to gentlemen that held her heart, tightly. Her first husband was her beloved high school sweetheart, Eugene (Gene) Vance Brown. He died, shortly (only a few months) after they were wed, of leukaemia. Betty Lou married her second husband about five years after Gene had died. He was almost 10 years older than she but age was just a number. He was the “big brother” of one of Gene’s and her good friends, John Balcome. John had often said, "If you have car problems or need something fixed just “COD” (Call on Don)."Betty Lou didn’t know then just how true that would become a little later in her life! Don was best friends with Betty Lou’s first cousin, Percy Gardner. Percy often came to pick up Betty Lou from where she teaching on Friday evenings and would bring her back home to Chatfield. One very cold, wintery night in 1952, Don came with Percy to pick up Betty Lou. Shortly after that, it was just Don who came to pick up Betty Lou and then they were married on January 3, 1953. Donald (Don) Balcome was born on February 14, 1918, and was Betty Lou’s forever Valentine. Don passed away in March of 2008 at the age of 90. He had fought a lengthy battle with heart and kidney disease, as well as, cancer. Betty Lou and Don were married 55 years.
Betty Lou was devoted to her family, to all of her students, and to all those friends that she considered family. Betty Lou had two daughters Cindy Ann (Balcome) Tester and Alice Mae (Balcome) (Moore) Applequist. Betty Lou and Don felt blessed to have Bert Tester, William Moore and Russell Applequist as not “son in laws” but as sons. They often said that divorces ended marriages but did not need to end family ties. In 1997, Don and Betty Lou found out that Don had a daughter and that she was living in Eyota, Minnesota. (At that time, his daughter was 53 years old and Don was 79 years old.). Slowly, Don and Betty Lou both began to get to know his daughter, Linda (Mayo) Kingsley and her family. Betty Lou has considered Linda to be one of her many bonuses by the heart kids.
Betty Lou has treasured her grand-daughter; Jamie (Kody) Tester Morfoot (great grandson Nate Morfoot) and grandson, Scott Donald Tester (great granddaughters Jordan and Aiyanna). Because of Betty Lou “adopting many various people by the heart” to be her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren...it would be challenging to include everyone here and be accurate. We have tried to be more inclusive of her “extended” family on our picture and service power points and family power point. She loved people and enjoyed spending time with them. Betty Lou was cherished and is survived by countless other friends and family whom she felt blessed to know. So, to those many “by the heart” sons and daughters and their families (and we pray you all know who you are) know that you were loved by Betty Lou and you are noted in our hearts as “family”.
Betty Lou loved music! She loved playing clarinet, piano, organ, keyboard, a little bit of saxophone, harpsichord and accordion. She loved listening to music, going to concerts, recitals, and singing in choirs. Betty Lou loved gardening and she and her best friend, Betty Bjortomt had about an acre garden for almost ten years. (Yes, their husbands got pulled into helping with it, as well as, their kids into maintaining it.) Betty Lou loved flowers, writing poetry and snail mail letters. She loved teaching and considered her teaching years to be her happiest and best years. Betty Lou loved “old fashioned” simple family gatherings and parties. She was not much for playing games but loved simple foods and great conversations. She loved volunteering at the Chatfield Tourist Center for decades, the Library Lunch Program, Advocating tor kids with special needs, Tutoring children that needed a bit of 1:1 time, teaching basic piano and organ (back in her single days) and directing children choir groups. Before her knees gave out, she loved old time dancing and ballroom dancing. She loved being with friends and family, laughing, going for car rides and watching her “kids” evolve into being young adults and grandparents.
Betty Lou loved dogs and since she had not been able to take them for walks, she specialized in requesting to take them on car rides and giving out many dog treats. The last five years, most all of her rides were based around routes that included “pet friendly” parks, trail, easy access handicap bathrooms and drive thru fast foods or take out spots.
A Memorial service for Betty will be 2 pm on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at the Chatfield Lutheran Church in Chatfield, MM. With visitation from 12 – 2 pm before the service at church. There will be a luncheon following the service, at the church. Please feel free to stop in for any part or all of it. This is a time to Celebrate Betty Lou’s Life and the Many Positive Ways She Lived Life to the Fullest.
Per her request, please consider bringing canned food donations for our area “Food Shelves”...or paper products for the Ronald McDonald House or Rochester Transplant House.
If you are a Dog and/or Cat lover, please consider money and/or food donations. Those items will be divided between PCHS and Companion Pets in Rochester...
***(Food Donations and/or cash donations for the Food shelves will be divided among the Chatfield Food Shelf, Eyota Food Shelf and the St. Charles Food Shelf as Betty Lou’s last altruistic networking food collection done for/with her beloved Alpha Delta Kappa—Upsilon –Teacher’s Sorority.)
Riley Funeral Home is assisting the Balcome family with arrangements. Online condolences are welcome at rileyfuneralhomes.com
To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.