Betty Jean Robinson, 94, of Perham, Minn., passed away on April 9, 2023, of natural causes.
The oldest child of Maurice and Goldie (True) Harding, she was born on May 28, 1928, in rural Cheney, Kan., and graduated from Cheney High School in 1946. She went on to earn a bachelor's degree in home economics and art at Kansas State University in 1950, later completing postgraduate studies at Fort Hays University and the University of Minnesota.
While at K-State, Betty Jean met George H. Robinson, and they were married in the chapel there on January 27, 1951. They were blessed to have three children: Eugene, George and Audrey.
Betty Jean started her career in K-State Extension Education as the first home demonstration agent for Lincoln County. She also served as home agent for nearby Ellis County and as associate 4-H agent for Sedgwick County. Later she served as dietitian to the first men's dormitory at Fort Hays University.
Upon the death of George's brother and business partner Wallace, Betty Jean helped her husband run their truck stop, the Robinson Transport Inn, and their creamery, Kings Kwality Ice Cream, in Hays, Kan. An adventurous capable woman, she spent two summers as the chef for Wagons Ho, a covered wagon tourist experience based on the historic Butterfield Trail near Quinter, Kan.
Arriving in rural Perham in 1968, Betty Jean substitute-taught for a few years at Perham High School and taught adult education classes. She volunteered as a 4-H project leader, judged 4-H fairs for many years and was active with the Minnesota Horticulture Society. A University of Minnesota Master Gardener, Betty Jean, together with George, grew a bounty of fruit and vegetables in their Boedigheimer Lake garden.
True to her Christian faith, Betty Jean served her church as a youth leader, choir member, board member (including chairing the board) and treasurer of United Methodist Women. She also taught both children's and adult Sunday School. While serving 25 years as the Perham United Methodist Church historian, she authored history booklets commemorating church centennials.
A creative spirit, Betty Jean said she was never happier than when she was arranging flowers or painting with watercolors. Welcomed into the folds of the Perham art community, she took painting classes and advanced her skills. She shared her knowledge and passion for watercolor by teaching painting to fellow retirees while wintering in her Texas retirement community and summering at home in Perham.
Struggling with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis for decades, Betty Jean said she was eternally grateful for the loving care her family members provided. Even though her physical capabilities diminished over time, her mind remained sharp, and her curiosity about the natural world proved to be inexhaustible.
She was preceded in death by her husband, George H. Robinson, and sisters Maxine Harding and Joan Kannarr. She is survived by her sister Darlene Hansen and brother Richard (Marie) Harding; two sons, Eugene (Julie Olson) Robinson and George (Carla) Robinson; and daughter, Audrey (Craig) Robinson Favorito.
Betty Jean's pride and joy were her ten grandchildren and three-plus great-grandchildren (one on the way).
A memorial service will be held at Perham United Methodist Church on June 10, 2023 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Perham United Methodist Church in her memory.