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Betty Smith

Funeral service for Betty Eileen Miller Smith of Jackson, was held Sunday, June 20, 2021, at 2 p.m. at Patton United Methodist Church. Arrangements were handled by Liley Funeral Chapel in Patton.

Betty died Wednesday, June 16, 2021, at The Villas of Jackson Memory Care Unit at the age of 90. She was born July 16, 1930, at the family farm outside of Oak Ridge, the daughter of Payton and Hazel Kurre Miller. The Millers settled in Cape Girardeau County in 1803. Betty was proud of her long Cape County heritage.

She graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1948, valedictorian of her class. She was active in high school sports and groups. When asked what sports and clubs she participated in her answer was, “If the school had it, I was in it.” She was a 1957 graduate of Southeast Missouri College, today University. In 1950, Betty started teaching at North Patton School, a two room school, in the Patton district. She ended her teaching career 37 years later at the same school now named Meadow Heights. One unique event in her years of teaching was in 1954-55 when she taught 4th and 6th grades and her students included four sets of twins, three of which were identical.

On Aug. 4, 1951, she married Harold Smith, a Bollinger County native, at the Oak Ridge Methodist Church. With Harold came a six year old girl named Dixie who Betty raised and loved as her own. Two daughters were born into the family, Debbie and Deanna. Harold preceded her in death, Nov. 12, 1994. They lived their entire married life in Patton. She went to Patton to teach school at the age of 20 and stayed there for 69 years, until she moved into assisted living in Jackson.

Betty was a never still, always ready to talk person. She played volleyball in high school and college, was a 4-H leader, a member of Patton United Methodist Church where she played the piano for over 50 years, Patton Saddle Club, president of the Bollinger County Teachers Association, Missouri State Teachers Association, Missouri Retired Teachers Association, Blue Creek Quilters, and the Sedgewickville Homemakers Club. In 1987, she received the Phi Delta Kappa “Southeast Missouri Teacher of the Year” award.

Betty is survived by three daughters, Dixie (Don) Boyce of Ballwin, Debbie (James) Deneke of Gordonville and Deanna (John) Carter of Piedmont; sister, June Hulsey of Ironton; officially cousin, but like a brother, Pete (Judy) Miller of Oak Ridge; grandchildren, Julie (Michael) Matthews of Gordonville, Jason Carter of Piedmont, and Jonathan Deneke of Ames, IA; three great-granddaughters, Macie, Melanie and Mollie Matthews; five nieces and nephews, Judi Crites Statler of Sedgewickville, Carol Davis of Canton, IL, Matthew Hulsey of Hot Springs, AR, Melissa Hulsey Boren of Farmington, and Mary Hulsey of Hot Springs, AR, and friends, more than you can count. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, a step-granddaughter, Jennifer Boyce, brother-in-law, Dean Hulsey and one nephew, David Hulsey.

The family would like to thank the wonderful staffs of The Villas of Jackson and Crown Hospice for the care, comfort and guidance they provided.

Betty has gone home.

Memorial donations may be given to the Meadow Heights School District or the Oak Ridge Schools Foundation.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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