Betty Lou Rosenthal Light died Oct. 6 in Tucson, Ariz. She was 97.
She is survived by her three children, Patty Hayes (Larry), Ken (Marcia), and Rick (Morgan), seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Her brother and sisters preceded her in death as did her beloved husband of almost 60 years, Dr. Mason M. Light.
Betty Lou Rosenthal was born July 13, 1922, a lucky Friday the 13th, in Denver, Colo. She was the fourth of six children. She grew up in Denver and graduated from East High School. While attending Denver University, she met a handsome young doctor. Mason Light was a friend of her older brother, and had completed medical school at CU. They were married Sept. 14, 1941. She was 19 years old. It was war time. Dr. Light was turned down for the service due to his asthma and was asked to move to Gunnison to take over the practice of Dr. McDonough who was drafted into active duty, leaving the community without medical care. Betty left college and the big city to begin her life in the mountains, where those who were to become life-long friends taught her the basics of life, caring for babies, washing clothes, cooking, baking, home-making and creating a life “in the sticks” away from the big city.
She was a great sport, having no outdoor skills as a naïve 19-year-old when she arrived, she bravely followed her adventurous husband into the mountains, learning to camp, hike, fish, kayak, cross-country ski and downhill ski.
Living in Gunnison can be a challenge, from the bitter cold and snow of the winter to the struggle to grow things in the short Gunnison summer season and to keep flowers from the deer and rabbits. But Betty graciously handled the challenges as they arose. Her attitude in life was to simply accept what is and move through it. She exemplified a quiet strength and dignity in every aspect of her life. Her tables were always set just right, and she was thorough in teaching her children proper manners and language skills. She even made them eat fried chicken with a knife and fork, just so they would know how to eat politely!
She was a Gunnison resident for 72 years! Over the years she participated in many community activities, some of which were P.E.O., AAUW and Garden Club. Betty had a lovely singing voice, took lessons and joined a local choir. They’d perform concerts, and often holiday shows. She shared fond memories of playing Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She was often asked to sing at weddings and special occasions. She had a wonderful sense of humor and was great with puns, evoking many a groan from her friends and children. She’d sing for family gatherings and had fun creating comic songs for family events, and also for Gunnison’s “SonofaGunn” performances. She loved to write, especially poems, and had a book of her poetry published.
She and Mason were most appreciative of Western State and all that the college offered Gunnison. They attended many games and concerts, and classes too, and in 1961, Betty completed her B.A. in education. Though she never taught school full time, she enjoyed substitute teaching and especially tutoring. She loved being around students and enjoyed mentoring them.
She was greatly respected and loved by her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, who feel so very thankful to have had such an elegant lady as their guiding light. Her smile, her wisdom, and of course, her puns will be sorely missed.
Betty was a matriarch in Gunnison for over seven decades. Her smile, generosity, and humble elegance will be deeply missed by many in the Gunnison Valley.
Private family burial services will be held with a community memorial service scheduled at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Mason and Betty Light scholarship fund at Western Colorado University.