Sunday, March 7, 2021
Giving Thanks for A Busy, Busy Life
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Betty Grant relishes the beauty of a friend’s garden in Hailey during a Senior Connection’s Diners Club outing in September.
   
Sunday, January 31, 2021
 

STORY BY LESLEY ANDRUS

PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Betty Grant’s childhood was spent in isolation, growing up as she did on an 80-acre farm seven miles from town.

But what she missed in social activities then, she has more than made up for since as she flits from one thing to another—from volunteering with the Welcome Wagon to participating in beach parties at The Senior Connection.

 
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Daughter Teresa and Betty Grant pose for a picture with Bill Grant as Higher Ground treats Bill Grant to a birthday party skiing Dollar Mountain.
 

Born in Minnesota, Betty grew up on a farm where they raised corn, potatoes, wheat and cows.  She, her brother and two sisters attended a one room school house through grammar school, which had between 16 and 18 total students. There were only four in Betty’s grade.

In high school Betty moved into town, working for her room and board. 

Betty’s mother encouraged her to leave the farm so, when she graduated in 1953, Betty headed for Yellowstone Park.  She remembers the train ride and her first view of real mountains.

After that summer, Betty enrolled at the University of Minnesota, but ultimately chose nursing school where she obtained her LPN.  She started working at the Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis where she lived with a mother and daughter who were also nurses. But, after six months, she got a job offer from Sun Valley and headed west.  Sun Valley Company provided a railway pass and she and her friends took advantage of it to travel to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.

 
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Betty Grant fusses over her late husband Bill as Higher Ground volunteers ready him to ski Dollar Mountain.
 

Taking a break in 1957 Betty went to Seattle where she worked a summer for Northwest Airlines.  Then it was back to Sun Valley with interim stints in Minnesota and Wisconsin, a two-week ski trip to Europe with her ski club, and then back to Sun Valley when she received a letter from Bill Grant informing her about a job at the Moritz Hospital where she could use her nursing degree.

Betty and her sister Joanie got in their 1953 Ford and drove across the country where they moved into a rental house owned by Bill.  Clearly, Bill had ulterior motives to get Betty back to Sun Valley for in November 1953 they married.

Bill Grant was a hard worker, an outdoorsman who loved hunting and fishing and a kind person who never failed to help others.  As Betty says, life with Bill was “busy, exciting, and we worked like crazy.”

Because of Betty’s love for people, she became a Welcome Wagon Hostess. She and Bill started a business called The Opportunity Shop, selling new and used furniture. They also started the first Sears Roebuck Catalog store on Main Street in the site of Hailey’s original post office.

 
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Judy Wampler and Betty Grant kick it up during a Senior Connection Beach Party Bingo.
 

Bill worked for the county in Health & Welfare, spent weekends scrounging for used furniture, became a probate judge and, when lower courts were eliminated, was appointed as a magistrate.  He and Betty bought old homes, fixed them up and sold them.

And, in addition to working at the Opportunity Shop and Sears store, Betty became a Realtor and a Mary Kay skin care and cosmetic consultant, which she is still does today.   And this was all while raising six children and moving 13 times!

“Bill would come home and say “Clean out the refrigerator because I just sold the house,’ ” Betty laughed.

 In the middle of all these activities Betty and Bill found time to travel – to Minnesota to visit sisters, to  Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Lake Havasu, Hawaii and New Orleans and overseas to Spain, France, Switzerland, Russia, the Czech Republic and Africa.

 
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Betty Grant shows off her sunny disposition while toasting a happy day in Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.
 

In 1999 Bill had a ski accident on Limelight that left him paralyzed and unable to talk. In response, he and Betty spent 10 winters in Palm Springs where Betty took loving care of him. They then returned full time to the Wood River Valley and, with daycare help from The Senior Center, Betty was able to care for him at home up until his final two years, which he spent at a care center in Bellevue.

Betty was fortunate to have two daughters--Pam and Angela—living nearby in the Wood River Valley. Mary lives in Tiburon and Kathleen in Los Angeles, while Theresa alternates between Boise and Africa where she works with her non-profit raising money to teach orphans.  Sadly, daughter Julie died in a car accident when she was 18.

But the remaining girls have given Betty six grandchildren -- five grandsons and one granddaughter.

Before the coronavirus pandemic swept through the valley and around the world, Betty worked part-time at Friedman Memorial Airport conducting surveys “just for fun.”

She also loves The Senior Connection where she has been actively involved for more than 20 years, starting with when her mother came to the valley to live permanently in 1986.

“The best things about The Connection,” she said, “Are the food, trips and the camaraderie.”

Betty fondly recalls the days when The Connection had an open mike where people could read poems and share stories and experiences. And she hopes that tradition can be revived and added to the numerous activities available at the Center. 

“We have a quality of life here– the hiking, skiing and beauty of our surroundings,” she said. “I say thanks to God every day.  I’ve had a wonderful life.”

 

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