Betty Jean Ertel Dillon
Funeral services for Betty Dillon, a longtime area resident, will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, at the Ertel Memorial Chapel. Betty will be laid to rest by husband Dick Dillon, after services at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
Betty Jean Ertel was born Sept. 11, 1919, the second of five children, to J. Walter and Ida Ertel. She was born north of Cortez, in Ackman, which no longer exists. Her parents, Walter and Ida, would spend summer months in Ackman and return in the winter with Betty and her older sister Virginia to Denver, where their grandfather was an apprentice at a funeral home.
In 1920, Walter (known as Papa) became a licensed mortician and moved Betty and the family to Mancos. The young family spent five years in Mancos, purchasing a funeral home and welcoming twins Jack and Jane.
The family and business moved to Cortez, where they purchased a ranch and property south of town that became the Ertel homestead. Betty’s younger brother Walt was born, but when he was just 2 years old, and Betty was 9, their mother Ida died at age 36. This left Betty’s father widowed with five children, all under the age of 12.
Over the next several years, various people helped care for the kids, including their aunt and grandparents. And then Edna Lindsay came into their lives. A widow herself, with two children, Edna was just 28 when she assumed the daunting task of nanny and housekeeper for a family of nine. Edna’s daughter Helen was the same age as the twins, and her son Richard was the same age as Walt. Much to the delight of everyone, Edna and Walter fell in love, and she became Mrs. Walter Ertel after a few months of caring for the children. A final son, Donnie, was born to this union.
Betty and her siblings attended school in Cortez, where she met Richard Dillon during high school. After two years of courtship, they were married in Aztec, N.M., in 1937. They moved to the Ertel ranch and in March 1938, Dixie was born.
Dick worked for Montezuma Lumber Co. as a logger and a scaler and later moved the family to McPhee, a company logging town where their second daughter, Roma, was born in June 1939. In July 1940, daughter Sharon was born, and by the next summer Betty was cooking in a logging camp in the Glade above Dolores with girls ages 1, 2 and 3.
After Christmas that year, the family left for Vail, Wash., in a 1936 Chevy named “Sheasta” (sheasta have oil, sheasta have gas and sheasta have tires). Dick worked in Vail for Weyhauser Timber as a logger. They later moved to Olympia, where he worked as a longshoreman and where Michael Sue was born in 1944.
After several years in Washington, they settled in Lewis, Colo., where Diane was born in September 1947. In 1950, they moved to Mancos, where Dick worked in logging operations.
Sixth daughter Pat was born in 1953. Betty joined the PEO and was active in the Methodist Church. She was a 4-H leader and president of the PTA.
In November 1960, Preston Scott, their only son, was born. By this time, they had several grandchildren via Dixie and Roma.
In 1962, Betty, Dick and their three youngest children moved to Whiteriver, Ariz., where Dick worked in Ramsay’s logging company. Betty made a new home in a Forest Service cabin without running water or electricity. In 1965, the family returned to Colorado, where Dick became postmaster of Mesa Verde National Park and Betty was busy running Orchard Trailer Park.
Dick’s failing health finally forced him to remain home, and the family settled in Mancos in 1971, where Betty cared for him until Dick’s death in 1973. Betty spent nearly 30 years in Mancos, surrounded by her family and friends.
In that 30-plus years, Betty’s family tree grew to include 22 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren – 63 offspring from the union of Betty and Richard.
Betty passed away at age 94 on Dec. 21, 2013, at the Valley Inn Nursing Home.
Surviving Betty are children Roma Lynn Ewing of Mancos, Michael Sue Kern of Tucson, Diane Muller of Mancos, Pat Morgan of Mancos and Preston Scott Dillon of Mancos; 22 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren; and three brothers, Walter Ertel of Cortez, Richard Lindsay of Cortez, and Donnie Ertel of California. Betty was preceded in death by parents J. Walter and Ida Ertel; her husband, Richard Dillon; and two daughters, Dixie Robbins and Sharon Bott; and by her siblings, Virginia Mosher, Jack Ertel, Jane Fields, and Helen Lindsay.
Contributions can be made in memory of Betty Dillon with the Mancos First United Methodist Church or Habitat for Humanity. Services are under the direction of Ertel Funeral Home. To send condolences, go to the obituary section of ertel funeralhome.com.