The “Best Ever” wife, mother, grandma and great-grandma Betty Jean Eaton moved to her heavenly home with her family at her side on March 9, 2019. Betty was born to Elizabeth and Leonard Yost on July 6, 1930, in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Billings. When Betty was 13, the family, which included her siblings, Marilyn, Joan and Leonard, moved to a log house in Melville, as her dad wanted to be a cattle rancher. Betty graduated from Sweet Grass High School in Big Timber, where she would meet the love of her life, William “Bill” Eaton. Bill claims three girls were hitchhiking, including Betty, and he stopped to give them a ride. Betty disputes this story, saying they were just out for a walk.
Betty and Bill moved to Billings, where Bill joined his father-in-law Leonard to start Eaton and Yost Construction, which is still going strong today. Betty did the bookkeeping (by hand) since there were no computers in those days! When the economy slowed down, Bill and Betty invested in Pella Windows & Doors becoming the distributor for Montana. Their sons would eventually take over the businesses, but this did not mean Betty and Bill “retired.” Instead, they became a team of two driving all over the state servicing windows for many years and always had stories to tell of their work travels.
Betty and Bill celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary in November. They were a solid team — best friends who were always at each other’s side. For better or for worse, they set the perfect example of love. Betty tolerated Bill’s passion for all things hunting and fishing. Summers were spent packing up the kids on the weekends and heading off for outdoor adventures like fishing, camping, morel mushroom hunting or digging for amethysts. In 1964, Bill and Betty purchased a beautiful piece of property near Luther, Montana, and built a simple cabin (without running water and bathrooms!). Over the years, the Eaton cabin has gone through a few remodels and stands as a tribute to the wonderful craftsmanship established by Eaton and Yost Construction. It is a beloved gathering place, the site of a few weddings, and it has provided every grandchild some marvelous memories of hanging out with their grandparents.
They also found a property near Melstone and built a second home, where Bill lived out his dream of becoming a farmer. Now this wasn’t necessarily Betty’s dream, but she was a trooper. Many a day was spent together spraying weeds, a goal that was never quite accomplished at the ranch. In the evenings, it was their simple joy to watch the deer come and graze in the fields. When they weren’t at the ranch, they could be found tending to a monster-sized garden adjacent to their Billings home.
Mom’s heart of kindness always put her family first. She was an outstanding cook of comfort food, but it was her killer cinnamon rolls that we loved the best. At Christmas, we could count on homemade goodies when we stepped into Mom and Dad’s house. She grew up believing everything needed to be hung out on the clothesline to dry and then ironed, even jeans. She kept a spotless house, scrubbing the floors on her hands and knees weekly. She had two knee replacements, which she said was a result of all that scrubbing! She was part of the generation that believed that hard work was the way to get ahead and passed those values onto her kids.
Surviving Betty is her beloved husband, Bill; their children, Donnie Sexton (Ed) and their sons, Jed (Riann) and Tanner; Sheldon (Vicki) and their sons Dusty (Kara) and Dallas (Anna); Larry (Connie) and their kids Hilarry (Peterson), Seth (Cassie); Sedley (AJ), Meaghan (Cory), Logan (Kristin), Bridger (April) and Colter; Rod (Sandi) and their kids Brianna, Rachael, Kyle and Connor. In addition, there are 14 great-grandchildren and two on the way! Preceding Betty in death were her parents, sister Marilyn and grandson Ryan.
Mom was a faithful servant of God, and took great joy in having her Bible nearby. We take comfort in knowing that she has been welcomed into heaven by Jesus who surely said “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Services for Betty will be held Friday, March 15 at 11:00 at Faith Chapel, 517 Shiloh Road.
Memorials can be made to United Luv Project, 3245 Alpine Drive, Billings, MT 59102.