Bettie Ellen Whitney (née Bishop), 86, died May 11, 2018 at Olathe Health Hospice House in Olathe, Kansas, with family by her side. Bettie was a “leaper,” born February 29, 1932 in Berkeley, Michigan. She was the daughter of Leo James Bishop and Pauline (Chesner) Bishop.
Before retiring, Bettie worked as an administrative assistant in various industries such as engineering, insurance, and for the Johnson County Sheriff. She enjoyed bowling, watersports, cards, traveling, socializing with friends, and being a wonderful grandmother. She learned to snow ski at age 69!
Survivors include her six children: Susan Weddle, Holly Whitney (Paul Stewart), Nancy Patterson (Wes), James Whitney, Robert Whitney (Stacy), Kymber Umaña (Bo); and her sister Dawn Hincks. Bettie is also survived by grandchildren Kara Weddle Kern (Jimmy), Garrett Weddle (Cassie), Elizabeth Vidaurre (Steven Burnett), Guillermo Vidaurre (Catherine), Peter Stewart (Elizabeth), Star Patterson, Samantha Patterson Jones (Jason), Barbara Reliford, Alaina Whitney, Jace Whitney, Lauryn Whitney, Paige Whitney, Trinity Umaña , Rio Umaña and Great grandchildren Penelope Kern, Kendra Weddle, Dominic Stewart, Kendry Stewart, Jordan Hauber, Savannah Hauber, and Ivory Jones.
She was preceded in death by her sister Barbara Fruehauf and brother Don Bishop.
A celebration of life for Bettie will be held Thursday, May 17 from 6 – 8 p.m. (food served; spoken remembrances at 7:00) at Penwell-Gabel Funeral Home, 14275 S. Black Bob Rd., Olathe, KS.
Bettie was a member of Prince of Peace Catholic Church, where a funeral mass for her will be held on Friday, May 19 (16000 W. 143 St., Olathe, KS) at 10:30 a.m. Placement into a niche in a columbarium will occur immediately after the mass at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, W. 83 St. & Quivira Rd., Lenexa, KS.
Special thanks to the staff of Olathe Health Hospice House.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Charities USA, P.O. Box 17066 Baltimore, MD 21297-1066 or to Olathe Health Charitable Foundation, 20375 W. 151 St., Suite 363, Olathe, KS 66061 (write in the check MEMO section "Hospice House”).
Bettie's family members have provided the following memories:
From granddaughter Alaina Whitney:
And as for my favorite memory:I really can't say that I have just one. I think because I only saw her every few years or so, that every memory I have of her is special to me. I loved spending time at her house when I'd come visit; it felt like home, and was one of my very favorite places to be. It was with Grandma that I always felt safe, happy, and at peace.
From sister Dawn Hincks:
I’m the eldest daughter and Bettie was the baby of our family. Bettie was always such a tomboy and I remember when she was about 15 years old (I think! I’m 90 now and my memory isn’t what it used to be!) we were watching her riding her bike around the house, and our mother turned and asked me, in amused affection, “Do you think she’ll EVER be a girl??” Yes, mom, she turned into a wonderful woman, and an amazing mother, grandmother and great grandmother!
From niece Daria Bradtke:
To my dear, sweet Aunt and Godmother. Hearing your voice and our frequent phone calls will be missed dearly. You have always been like a second mom.
Praise the Lord you are in heaven with your savior and are no longer struggling or in pain. You put up such a valiant fight, you are my hero.
Till another time we will see each other again.
I love you with all of my heart.
From granddaughter Elizabeth Vidaurre
My Grandma Bettie was a fun grandma. Once she came to a cocktail bar in Brooklyn with me-and of course she got a gin martini! She was a great dance partner at my brother’s wedding. She was the one to suggest white wine at brunch at her house. Just a couple of years ago she was walking around the jungle and swimming in the ocean in Costa Rica! She always posted cute comments on Facebook.
Part of the reason Grandma was so much fun was because she wanted to be a part of our lives as much as she could, so she was always up for anything! She was also up for talking about anything. This meant that she was never judgmental. She was so open-minded and easy-going that I felt comfortable talking to her about anything.
I think these qualities came quite naturally to her, as they are even a common theme in the comments I have been receiving from all of my friends in the past few days who were fortunate enough to spend a little bit of time with me and her.
I Love You, Grandma, and I’m going to miss our time together.
From grandson Guillermo Jose Vidaurre
If there is one thing I will remember about my Grandma Bettie it is how supportive she was. The way she supported her children through some very tough times in each one of their lives is incredibly admirable and is beyond what most people could fathom doing. That support trickled down to us grandchildren as well.
There are quite a few grandchildren so it had to have been difficult to keep up with all of us. However, she made sure to know about and attend what had to be hundreds of football, softball, soccer, theater, debate, and many other events. She was always there to show her support and pride for all of us grandchildren.
Personally, I would say that support sometimes went too far!. As best exemplified by when she watched the Kansas City Chiefs play football on TV. She would sit there and yell at the players on the TV like there was no tomorrow. But in the end, we all knew that the support we were so lucky to get from her was her love for each and every one of us.
From granddaughter Kara Weddle Kern:
My favorite memory of grandma is from my wedding. The night before the wedding we had a bonfire on the beach and ate desserts. Grandma was dancing around the fire and having the time of her life. It was a lot of fun and she seemed to really enjoy herself.
From daughter Kymber Umaña:
At either 80 or 81 years of age, mom put on roller skates at Rio's birthday party at Skate City. When we started to give her flak about it because it could be dangerous at her age, she told us it was her decision and we should butt out. Then, Bo said to her shortly after she started to skate "Mom, be careful! You can fall". She responded to him "I already fell a couple times".
From son, Jim Whitney:
The Best Father a Son could EVER have: MY MOM!
By daughter Susan Whitney Weddle
My Mom was a force to be dealt with for most of my life. Everyone that met her, including the nurses in the hospice house, asked if she always dictated what to do. When she was younger she wasn’t as forceful to adults, but she ruled us kids and had us all marching to her tune.
Mom was always there for every one of us in our time of need. It didn’t matter whether others agreed with her or not she was there to support her kids just because we needed it. Her love was unending and her faith in each one of us was always there. She wanted us to be the best we can be and to live full, loving and fruitful lives.
Mom had a belief that she would never grow old, she could do anything whenever she chose, and no one could tell her what to do. I remember one time when I think she was in her early 70s and I was riding in her car and she ran a stop sign. I asked her if she saw it and she said she did and there was no reason to stop. A few months later she had cataract surgery on both eyes and when I brought up that’s probably why she didn’t see the stop sign, she stuck to her original story. She was a pip!
Mom loved to dance, drink her manhattans and martinis because she couldn’t stand that sweet stuff. She drank coffee all day, every day and she loved her chocolate. She was stubborn to a fault and we all got that from her.
I love you Mom and my life will be missing a piece because it went with you. There will be times when I just sit and remember your face, smile and loving eyes. It will bring tears to my eyes and my heart will ache to be able to talk to you one more time. You showed us all how to live and die and I only hope I can be as strong as you were.
My heart is breaking,
Your loving daughter
By daughter Nancy Patterson
Tribute to my Mom
First of all Mom taught us to have faith in God the Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit. She made sure we went to church every Sunday, rain or shine, in town or out of town, on vacation or not. I don’t know how she found Catholic churches without Google but she did!
I was taught to tithe, be generous and to save for that rainy day. Mom could budget better than anyone I knew. When she retired she lived on not much more than a SS check. She never complained about not having things. She would give you the shirt off her back if you asked for it. As Jesus says if someone takes your tunic, give him your cloak too. That was my Mom.
Mom came to so many events that my step kids were having. She came to their volleyball games when they were in K.C. and she also came to Lawrence for her great grandkids football games and soccer games. She cheered louder than anyone even tho she may not have known the rules of the game. She was there at the airport when we met our foreign exchange student Lucy for the first time.
She was young at heart even tho her body began to age of late. She was a leap year baby and acted her leap year age 21.5, not her actual age, 86. She jumped on our trampoline when she was in her 70s and rode the roller coaster in Florida at Bush Gardens in her 80s when we went to visit her.
She was the best Mom in the whole world and I would be lucky if I could love my family even ½ as much as she loved hers. I will forever miss her until the day we meet again in heaven.
Your Adoring daughter
By daughter Holly Whitney
Loving Tribute to MY MOM
I have to start with my latest favorite memory, because it was really priceless:
My daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, Steven Burnett, were having a dinner here in Kansas City to celebrate their marriage in New York City, which their families in Kansas did not attend. As a preliminary get together the day before the reception, they decided to go bowling with just their immediate families. There were five very large men in that group, all six feet tall and close to two hundred pounds: Steven, his dad, brother and cousin, and Paul, my husband (Guillermo Jose was there, too, but you can’t really call him large!). The young men, in particular, were hellbent in a fierce competition to beat all the others, slinging those bowling balls with all the power they had, and watching those pins just EXPLODE in all directions!! Then it was grandma’s turn. Here comes tiny little 95 pound, 80 year-old Grandma Bettie! Trotting up to the line to take her stance, taking careful aim, and just rolling her ball with the confidence of someone who knows what she’s doing. Watch out, boys! She didn’t need power, this lady KNEW how to bowl!! She beat the pants off everyone there!! Those beefy guys didn’t stand a chance! I only wish I had a video of it; it has to be one of the most comical sights I ever saw!
That, in a nutshell, was Grandma Bettie. She was not just an onlooker, attending events with all her children and grandchildren, she participated with all her children and grandchildren! She played games with us, she jumped on trampolines with us, she learned how to snow ski at 69 with all of us, she went on rides with us at Disney World and Silver Dollar City, she went hiking up mountains and volcanoes, she schlepped camping gear, slept in tents and cooked many meals and s’mores over campfires with us, she traveled with us everywhere we went- by foot, bicycle, canoe, car, train, boat, plane-to name just a few of the many activities she shared with us. And she did everything, she shared all these things with us, without the slightest thought to her advancing age.
It “goes without saying” (but I have to actually say it, of course!) that her love and care for her children and family was deep, profound and limitless and there is so much about my mom that I admire, and hope to emulate. But I believe that this special feature of her character, her capacity to jump in and participate wholeheartedly in all the adventures of life no matter what her age and with no need for any special accommodation whatsoever was her very unique gift to all us. I believe it is, together with her eternally positive outlook on life, her greatest gift to me. I had a lot of fun with my mom, I enjoyed her company immensely, I absolutely loved “hanging out” with her, and she was my best friend ever! THANKS, MOM, FOR ALL THE GOOD TIMES TOGETHER!
Your love for us lives in us, and we will love you for all eternity.
From Son-in-Law, Paul Stewart
Bettie became my mother-in-law about 7 years ago, but we became friends well before that. She welcomed me into the family with open arms, made me feel comfortable, and we shared many laughs together. I always looked forward to seeing her, and over the last 14 years we spent a lot of time in each other’s company. We traveled to Florida together, spent time with each other in Costa Rica. Played Yahtzee and cards. Fun times, good times.
I did a personal Rorschach test on myself – think “Bettie Whitney” – and what comes to mind…let’s see:
• Pleasant smile and disposition, friendly
• Her faith and the Catholic Church
• Cared about and for family and friends
• Never wanted a fuss made over her (y’know, kind of like we’re doing now, but I think if it pleases us to do it, then she’s probably okay with it)
• Athletic, wiry, unconcerned often for her own physical safety
• Liked to have fun, play games
• Her love of driving and the “unique” way she did it
• Perseverant, independent
• BOWLING!!! I made it a mission of mine to finally beat Bettie in a game, and did – one time. She’d often give me pointers, in a vain effort to improve my game--Paul, you’re not following through, your arm swing is off, etc.
• WHEEL OF FORTUNE!!! 6:30 local time in Kansas City, channel 4! It was always my job, when we traveled together, to find out when Wheel of Fortune was aired and which local channel it was on; and, plans revolved around it!
• KANSAS CITY CHIEFS!!! Bettie was an AVID Chiefs fan, and I watched a couple of games with her, with her loudly voicing complaints about the players’ performance (and the referees’) to the TV
• Vodka martinis, on ice
• Her word finder books, her solitaire games
Bettie, I am glad I knew you and I will miss you.
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