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Betty Dudden - August 19, 2012

Betty June Dudden, 89, died Aug. 19, 2012 in Fort Collins. Betty June Caskey was born June 10, 1923 in Oshkosh, Neb. to Alma Theresa (Olson) Caskey and Daniel Earl Caskey.

She grew up on a farm south of Big Springs, Neb. After Betty graduated from Big Springs High School in 1941 she attended Kearney State Teachers School. During WWII Betty lived with her sister Lola and worked in a munitions factory in Denver. V-E Day was declared May 8, 1945 and operations ceased at the factory, so Betty returned to the plains to teach school. She taught first and second grade in Venango, Neb., where she met Orville Dudden.

On June 3, 1946, Betty and Orville married and settled in Venango. Betty lived the life of a typical farmer’s wife, raising three children, Daniel, Larry and Cheryl, cooking for field workers and tending to her home. She loved her yard and big garden and spent many happy hours there. Betty was an avid reader and loved to listen to music while reading.

Betty loved to travel. She would read travel adventures and listened to local music in anticipation of her travel destinations. Her children and grandchildren inherited this love of travel. In her lifetime, she went to Asia, Europe and all over the North American continent. She dreamed about living in Alaska and was able to go there twice in her life.

Betty always said that even though she was the only one of her siblings who wanted adventure, she was the only one who stayed within 50 miles of her birthplace. Betty and Orville built a “cabin in the mountains” in Bergen Park in 1952. Betty always wanted to live there and did so for three years after Orville died.

Betty was an active member of American Legion Auxiliary, traveling all over the United States with the organization. She was department president of the State of Nebraska in 1977-78. The theme for her year as president was “Take Time, Be the Dream.” Betty was always very giving of her time and encouraged others to live their dreams.

She was also a member of La Societe Des 8 Chapeau et 40 Femmes, La Societe De Femme American Legion and Venango Woman’s Club and was active in the PTA while her children were in school. She headed drives for the American Heart Association, March of Dimes and other local fundraisers.

She was a member of the Venango Community Church and served as church secretary/treasurer for many years. After she left Venango, she joined the United Methodist Church in Evergreen. She volunteered regularly, once even driving to Oregon by herself to work on Habitat for Humanity. After moving to Colorado, she volunteered at the Evergreen Senior Citizens Center.

Her home was always decorated for holidays—the old teacher in her, she said—but she put particular emphasis on Christmas. Many in the Venango area will remember her house covered in Christmas lights and her Christmas village made out of tiny houses, glue and twinkling lights. She opened her home during the season so visitors and school children could enjoy her holiday handiwork.

Betty also enjoyed serving dinners to friends and family, whether it was the country high school ball players or major holiday dinners. One cousin remembers her Thanksgiving table went from “here to forever” and everyone was always welcome.

Betty’s biggest joy in life was her family. She attended many football games, basketball games, track meets and music contests while her children were in school, and she traveled many miles to watch her grandchildren in their academic, theatrical, sporting and rodeo events.

Her last years were highlighted by the trips she provided for her whole family so they could be together over Christmas and other special occasions. It was so important for her to have her family together that she sent them all plane tickets to a chosen destination to make sure it happened.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Orville in 1990; son, Larry in 2003; and brothers, Leo and Donald Caskey.

Betty is survived by her son, Daniel and wife Virginia of Hawaii; daughter-in-law, Karla of Grant, Neb.; daughter, Cheryl Kaup and husband Dan of Fort Collins; grandchildren, Amber Kaup, Katherine Dudden, Lesley Dudden and Bret and wife Megan Kaup; sisters, Lola Frank, Margie Boatman and Barbara Smith. She was kind of proud that she wasn’t old enough to have great-grandchildren. (It must be noted here that she was remembered by one niece for her astute perceptions and quick wit!)

Betty loved her life in Nebraska, and when talking to her about Venango during her final days, she looked up and said, “Let’s go!”

Funeral services were held Aug. 27 at the Venango Community Church with Pastor Chris Costrini officiating. Interment followed at the Venango Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to American Legion Post #270 Auxiliary.

Austin-Tennant Funeral Home of Julesburg was in charge of arrangements.