Betty Mae Johnson (1928-2023)
August 31, 2023
Betty Mae (Smestad) Johnson entered into eternal life Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. Betty was born May 23, 1928, in Bainville, Montana to Hans and Delia (Grindland) Smestad. She was the sixth of seven children and third of three daughters. Her father homesteaded in Bainville in 1915 where she was raised. She graduated from Bainville High School in 1946 and attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota hoping to be a business teacher.
Prior to graduating from Concordia, Betty married Dale LaVerne Johnson on June 23, 1950, at First English Lutheran Church in Bainville, Montana. While Dale finished his education at Concordia, Betty gave birth to their son Kapp in 1951. From 1952 – 54, she and Dale lived in Parker's Prairie, MN where Dale was a coach and history teacher. It was in Parker's Prairie where Betty gave birth to their daughter Debbie in 1953.
In 1954, she and Dale moved to St. Louis Park, Minnesota where Dale was the Youth and Recreation director at Westwood Lutheran Church. During this time Betty worked at Bernie's Delicatessen as a waitress. It was a job she cherished throughout her life and would recount her experiences for years to come.
In 1957, she and Dale moved to Culbertson, Montana, where he took a job as a Social Studies teacher and coach. At this time, she was a stay-at-home mom with two active children taking up most of her time. In 1959, Dale accepted a teaching and coaching position at Plentywood, MT. In Plentywood, Betty put her business interests and skills to work, working for Bob Nelson, a local attorney and accountant.
During the summers from 1959 – 1965, when Dale attended Montana State University in Bozeman earning a M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling and Secondary Administration, Betty worked odd jobs enjoying Bozeman summers with her oldest sister Clarice. Because money was tight, Betty would make the A&W 'Pappa Burger," "Momma Burger," and "Baby Burger" and the family would drive to the A&W close to campus where they would buy root beers and eat their hamburgers.
In 1965 they moved to Fort Benton, Montana, where Dale became the principal of the high school and Betty became the clerk of the school district. In 1965 she and Dale moved to Helena where Betty purchased the Volume One Christian Bookstore, was a co-owner of the Village Inn Pancake House and became the state leader in Eagle Forum. It was during this time that Betty's love of the Lord and her commitment to Scripture blossomed as she was an avid Bible study leader.
She was preceded in death by her parents Hans and Delia Smestad, her husband Dale, her sister Clarice Wallin, and brothers Harris, Leonard, Robert, and Donald Smestad. She is survived by her sister Deloris Hall of Billings, her son Rev. Kapp Johnson, daughter-in-law Bonnie and daughter Debra Brewer all of Seeley Lake, Montana; grandchildren Autumn Sather (Joe) of Maple Grove, Minnesota, Bryant Johnson (Erica) of Conroe, Texas, Carmelle Johnson, and Kiersten Owings (Chad) of Hamilton, Breanne Stafford (Mike) of Victoria, Minnesota, Caleb Brewer (Sarah), Joshua Brewer (Marley), and Andrew Brewer all of Bozeman; and great-grandchildren Kristjan Dale Johnson, Nolan and Everett Sather, Lukas, Chloe and Brynn Johnson, Radek Johnson; Ben, Colette and Sam Stafford, and Cale and Natalie Brewer.
A Viewing was held on Aug. 25, 2023 at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home, 3750 N Montana Ave., Helena, Montana, followed by her burial at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Fort Harrison. A reception will follow the service in the Social Hall of Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home. Please visit http://www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Betty.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:7-8