Betty Pope: A Life Well Lived

Betty Pope and her children began coming to Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC) in the 1950s to visit her grandmother, Julia Laseter, who lived at CRC. Later, Betty’s parents, Howard and Bessie Lausen, moved to CRC. Betty was the third generation to call CRC home when she moved in 2007.

Betty passed away this week, just one day shy of her 100th birthday. Yet the legacy of her strength, will, and heart live on.

Betty was an only child born in Rockford, Illinois. At 15, she moved with her family to Ann Arbor. She graduated from high school and attended the University of Michigan for one year before taking a job at American Broach in the accounting department during World War II.

In 1947, she married her high school sweetheart who had returned home after serving as a Marine in the Pacific during the war. They moved to California where she worked as an accountant at Union Oil. Four years later, they returned to Ann Arbor and started their family.

Betty Pope with her mom and grandmother

In 1960, the couple divorced, and Betty returned to work to support her four daughters who ranged from two to ten years old at the time. “In the 1960s, a woman on her own with four small children had few financially viable options,” Betty shared. Yet, she promised herself and her daughters they would “never live on welfare.”

True to her promise, Betty found a job at Hoover Ball Bearing (now NSK of North America). During her 25-year career there, she moved up the ladder from clerk to becoming supervisor of the clerks processing orders from traveling sales. Betty recalled many times at staff meetings when she was the only woman at a very large conference table. “I had to establish myself as a ‘no nonsense’ employee,” said Betty.

Working hard as a single mom, she credited the help of her “wonderful parents,” but remembered many late nights ironing after her daughters were asleep. Betty replied, “I just did what had to be done to raise my girls.”

Betty expressed pride in her four daughters who, she said, grew up to be caring women and making a difference in their own rights. She continued to instill those same values onto her six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Betty enjoyed traveling and, after she retired, joined the Pittsfield Seniors Travel Club. She also enjoyed antiquing and shopping at thrift stores and arts and crafts fairs.

In 2007, Betty made CRC her home, first in Dancey House (independent living) and then at CRC’s Glazier Commons Assisted Living center for the last five years. She volunteered at the Dancey House resident store and the Heritage Museum and enjoyed taking part in crafting classes.

Betty was also a faithful donor and became a member of the UMRC-Porter Hills Foundation Legacy Society, as were her parents.

When asked several years ago what her favorite thing was about living at CRC, she replied, “It is like a big sigh of relief, that I can be independent and not a burden on my children; that I don’t have to worry, and they don’t have to worry about me.”

Thank you to Betty’s family for allowing us to share her wonderful story. Learn more about Chelsea Retirement Community and the UMRC-Porter Hills Foundation.