Betty Elizabeth Hopper Haley was a wildflower from the Red Hills of Shandon, born the last of four children to homesteaders Laura McMillan Hopper and Roy (David LeRoy) Hopper in 1922. She died June 6, 2013, in Amador County while visiting family.
A child of the Depression, she grew up protected from it’s severity by the food and shelter provided by her family ranching life. She often recalled enjoying barefoot childhood times as carefree, without fear, as all her cousins and friends shared the same circumstances. City relatives came for extended summer tent camping on the ranch in order to share in the bounty of the crops. From those times, a lifelong love of recreational camping was born. The South Fork of the Trinity River and Yosemite still reverberate with the family’s good times enjoyed there.
Farm Bureau meetings called for monthly entertainments put on by members of the community, most of whom were related. The “show biz” flare revealed itself in her early years, especially encouraged by her Uncle Lou Harte and Aunt Pearl, a real show biz connection. Movie magazines of the day, viewed in the Shandon Market on the way home from school, taught her the art of fashion and make-up.
Then came the war…World War II. The Shandon community sent many sons away, including both of her older brothers. Pushed by her mother’s drive for formal education, Betty enrolled in San Jose State under protest. She often described her two years of college as “majoring in social activities.” One social activity, dancing, brought to her a lifelong companion, a sailor boy from Chicago. On Halloween Saturday night, Betty was at a dance in San Jose. She was dressed in a white blouse, blue skirt, bobby sox and saddle shoes. She had on red suspenders and wore her hair in the long page-boy style of the 40s with red-gold hair and lavender blue eyes. A shaft of light was on Betty and her partner. In walked that sailor boy from Chicago, Bill Hanley. As he often repeated, Bill took one look at Betty dancing on the floor and walked straight toward her. He cut in and took over the dance. He always said that he knew in that exact moment that they would marry. They were married for more than 64 years. A good life.
She is survived by her three children, Eloise, Court, and Roy and their spouses, and by five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Share in a gathering on Saturday, June 29, 11 a.m. at the Shandon Cemetery followed at noon by a celebration at the Shandon Park Women’s Clubhouse.
Donations can be made to the Shandon District Cemetery Endowment Fund, PO Box 336 Shandon, CA 93461 in her memory and in remembrance of her happy childhood times spent caring for the graves and markers of generations of clan members.
For the complete article see the 06-14-2013 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 06-14-2013 paper.
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