Betty Trickel

MISSOULA, Mont. — Betty Trickel passed away of natural causes on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, with family at her side. She went home to be with her Savior and family who had gone before: parents Harry and Eva Piper, brother Hubert and husband John Trickel after 66 years of marriage.

Betty grew up in Paxton. A member of the Greatest Generation, she served in the Chicago area as a Western Union operator and eventually manager. During the war she was often tasked with delivering news of service members’ deaths, injuries or MIAs, a task she performed with dignity and sensitivity.

On Dec. 23, 1946, she married her high school sweatheart, John Trickel, a UM forestry student. Following a train trip to Missoula, Mont., they honeymooned at the Florence Hotel, then later moved to married student housing where they established many lifelong friendships.

Betty worked for Western Union in Missoula, Mont., until required to quit when her first child was born. A stay-at-home mom, she worked many jobs in the community, including as a census taker and church treasurer. She also read books on tape for the blind and worked as a full-time bookkeeper for the sugar beet factory.

Betty eventually found her niche in real estate as a licensed agent for George Sayer Agency. She was a trailblazer for women in real estate. She took and passed the three-day Montana state real estate broker’s license exam on her first try and established Betty Trickel Realty, the first female-owned agency in Missoula, Mont.

She was a Platinum Life Master duplicate bridge player. She loved the mental challenge of the game and enjoyed teaching bridge to anyone interested. In 1974, during a trip to Asia, she was invited to play with some Brits in the lobby of the Singapore Peninsula Hotel, a definite highlight.

She was a 50-plus-year active member of both Electra Eastern Star and Rose Croix White Shrine. She was a devout founding member of Grace United Methodist Church. She also enjoyed camping, fishing, horseback riding, watching baseball, reading, crossword puzzles and family gatherings. She was a fantastic scratch cook whose table was always open to anyone who showed up. Second helpings were mandatory.

Family was most important to her, and she worked hard at keeping her family close. Although she moved to the wilds of Montana, she maintained a close-knit relationship with extended family in the Midwest. Holidays and numerous family events were celebrated throughout the year in the big family room/kitchen she designed.

Although "only a high school graduate" herself, she was a strong education advocate, insisting an education was something that could never be taken from you. She supported all of her children through advanced education and continues to support great-grandchildren in education endeavors today.

In March 1961, she was involved in a hellish auto accident on Brickyard Hill, in which she was severely injured and was not supposed to live. Her strong will to live inspired her physician to fight with her and after four months in the hospital enabled her to come home. After a full year, she was back on her feet and ready to tackle life again. Although crippled and handicapped, she lived 57 years, refusing to complain and remaining a cheerful, eternal optimist, forever inspiring family and friends with her strong faith and upbeat, positive attitude.

Left behind to miss her and mourn her passing are her sister Jean Karlock; brother Neil; daughters Jan Trickel and Marcia Johnson; grandson John (Shelley) Scot; great-grandchildren Kailer and Tristan; son Brian (Sheila) Trickel; granddaughters Rachelle Henderson and Shone Trickel (Byron Kennedy); great-granddaughters ShaDae and Shayla; Brad (Kari) Farnsworth; grandchildren Lindsay, Melissa and Taylor (Ashley); great-grandson Colton; and numerous aunts uncles, nieces and nephews.

She was cremated, and her ashes will be spread at a later date. A memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the Grace United Methodist Church, with a reception immediately following.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Braille Books for the Blind, Guiding Eyes for the Blind or charities of the donor’s choice.