Betty Jane Frisbie
81, of Colchester, Illinois
Betty Jane Von Arx Frisbie, 81, of Colchester, Illinois, passed away peacefully on March 25, 2020, in Lincoln, Illinois, after a 2018 cancer diagnosis.
She was born January 24, 1939, the youngest daughter of Bertha (Hammond) Von Arx and Glenn Von Arx. She was part of the 4th generation to be born on the Von Arx homestead outside of Niota, Illinois, Hancock County. Her Swiss ancestors had traveled up the Mississippi River from New Orleans in the 1830s and settled near Nauvoo with the intent to found “New Switzerland.”
Up until her father’s death in 1974, the homestead remained “off the grid” with no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no running water, and no telephone service. Cows provided milk. F20 Farmall tractors helped get the work done. Corn was harvested by hand.
Born after the Great Depression, Betty learned to live abundantly on scarce resources but also to share with others who had even less.
Betty attended the one-room Mound Schoolhouse in Appanoose Township through the 6th grade. She graduated from Nauvoo High School in 1957.
After graduation she took a job with Sheaffer Pen Company in Fort Madison, Iowa. She was promoted to the “14K gold room” because of her strength, strong work ethic, and her trustworthiness.
Betty loved roller skating, pom-poms and all. She loved music and learned the accordion after one lesson. Though she could not read music she played the piano and guitar by ear.
Betty met her future husband, Charles Frisbie, on a double date with a friend of hers and Charlie’s friend, Zeke Zimmerman. Betty and Charlie were married June 25, 1961. Zeke served as Charlie’s best man.
Betty and Charlie lived in Carthage from 1961–1962 and moved to Bethel Township, McDonough County, in 1962. Even after she left her homeplace, Betty held a keen interest in Niota area happenings, looking forward to the weekly Hancock County Journal Pilot in her mailbox.
It was in rural Colchester that Betty joined Bethel Baptist Church even though she had been raised and confirmed in the Nauvoo Lutheran Church and married in Appanoose Faith Presbyterian.
Being a Christian was deeply important to Betty, but the denomination was where ever God placed her. She chose Bethel, the church closest to her home, because “That is where my neighbors will be.” Betty had perfect attendance at Bethel for more than 30 years until her health interfered with her ability to attend.
Many local families, as well as her own family, found their introduction to the Lord by Betty’s prayers and homecooked meals. She was a prayer warrior for the sick and unchurched. She regularly gave rides to senior members of Bethel so they could keep participating in church activities and stay involved. She never forgot them and their needs for companionship and church fellowship support.
She participated in the American Baptist Missionary Society. She was a member of the Nutty Nut Pickers, a monthly get together of local homemakers who helped each other with whatever needed to be done. That could mean anything from picking nuts from hulls to quilting. She was also a member of the Bethel Home Extension Unit.
Betty was a skilled homemaker and loving mother to Cathy, Jim, and Paul. She and Charlie worked together to raise a family and care for their livestock and land. She oversaw a large garden from planting to picking to canning and freezing, all without running hot water. She loved to cook for her family and friends. Her homemade bread and pecan cinnamon rolls were big hits wherever she shared them. She always brought her pans home empty.
Betty’s deep Christian faith and the love of her family sustained her after Charlie’s death in 1991. She and Charlie were married for 30 years. “They were high quality years.” Betty lived at home on the farm with son Jim before moving to Lincoln with daughter Cathy and family after Betty’s health began to fail.
Betty’s letter writing was famous. Betty heard that the elderly mother in Bethel’s church family was a shut-in and lonely. Without saying anything to anyone, Betty wrote letters to her for years. Only after the woman’s passing did the family find a saved stack of letters from Betty. Betty never just signed cards. She shared homespun farm life news, personalized remarks, wry humor, and charming sketches. Her signature closing was “See you around the corner.”
She had a natural gift of putting people at ease with her humor and listening ear. She could keep a secret and was trusted, especially by the elderly.
She was in the cattle business with her son, Jim, for almost 30 years, sharing her opinion and always staying on top of the health and details of their herd.
Betty took her first airplane flight at age 79, and her second one at age 80. Both trips were to visit son Paul and his family in Colorado.
Daughter Cathy and family brought her over for a wonderful 81st birthday party and surprise reunion at Bethel Church earlier this year. Church friends and family from out of town crowded around to wish her well and share her joy.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, two brothers, Robert Von Arx and Dean Palmer, and one sister, Norma (Palmer) Myers.
Surviving to mourn her passing are her children Cathy (Allen) Starr, Lincoln, James (Theresa) Frisbie, Colchester, and Paul (Melissa) Frisbie, Johnstown, Colorado; grandchildren Roux Starr, and Delaney and Benjamin Frisbie; step-grandchildren Cory and Megan Starr, and Claudia and Erich Shuman; co-mother-in-law Mary Warnock, and many nieces and nephews.
Though Betty’s body gave out, her mind, sense of humor, and spirit stayed strong until her passing. The weekend before she died, she had a house full of immediate family (under the limit of 10 since we are under the quarantine of the 2020 Corona Virus Pandemic). She even enjoyed some nibbles of daughter Cathy’s pan-fried morel mushrooms, an important part of the family traditions.
Betty’s family wishes to thank her many kind and compassionate caregivers in Lincoln, Illinois at The Christian Village, Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, and Memorial Hospice. We are also forever grateful for the many family and friends who visited, called to chat with Betty, sent her cards, fashioned a wig during chemotherapy, painted her nails, made meals, prayed for her, and laughed with her.
Thank you to Jones Mortuary in Colchester for handling funeral arrangements. The family will hold a private graveside service where Betty will be laid to rest next to her beloved Charlie in Archer Bethel Cemetery in rural Colchester. Pastor Jim Richardson will officiate. A celebration of life and reunion for Betty will be held at a later date at Bethel Baptist Church and the Frisbie Farm.
Betty loved flowers. In lieu of flowers being sent to the funeral home, please plant a perennial flower this spring. When it blooms, you will be reminded of Betty and how much beauty her life added to this world. Gifts in Betty’s memory can be made to the Bethel Baptist Church Youth Fund, c/o Jones Mortuary, Colchester, IL 62326.
Friends may view and sign the register book at the Jones Mortuary in Colchester Friday, April 3, 2020, from 8:30 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Online Condolences may be expressed to the family at jonesmortuaryfh.com
Friends may view and sign the register book at the Jones Mortuary in Colchester Friday, April 3, 2020, from 8:30 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
Private Family Graveside at Bethel Cemetery
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