Betty Lee Verdier

September 26, 2010|By JANET HEIM
  • This family photo was taken at Christmas in 1988. Betty Lee Verdier is on the far right in the front row and is shown with her daughter, Anna Marie Verdier-Gilbert, front left, and Betty's second husband, Earl ("John") Verdier. Her four sons, in the back row from the left, are Lloyd, Jimmy, John and Bobby Kline.
Submitted photo,

Betty Lee Verdier was about family "all the way," her family recalls.

She was one of six children and had five children of her own. The family line continued with 22 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Her son Bobby Kline died about three years ago and her husband Earl "John" Verdier died in 2001.

Betty was born in 1937 in Hagerstown. She and three of her five siblings were adopted by a Mennonite couple, Lloyd and Thelma Strite of Smithsburg, when Betty was 10 years old.

She was the birth daughter of Eugene Henninger and Mary Henninger English. Anna Marie Verdier-Gilbert, Betty's only daughter, said Betty's birth mother would visit her children on the Strite farm.

One of her sons, Jimmy Kline, laughed as he remembered a road trip to visit Grandma English in Oklahoma in 1974. Betty and four of her children piled into a VW Beetle and encountered a hurricane on the return trip and had to deal with a starter that went out.


Betty was remembered for her traditional homemaking skills -- sewing, quilting, canning and especially her Swiss steak, bread pudding and fried chicken, made in a special cast iron skillet.

"When I was younger, she sewed all my dresses and made my first wedding dress," said Verdier-Gilbert.

She also had a framed photo of her and her mother wearing the long matching dresses Betty had made the two of them for the Bicentennial in 1976.

Each of Betty's grandchildren received a quilt made by her on their 16th birthday, as Grandma Strite had done for Betty's children.

Jimmy Kline said his mother gave good advice, whether it was asked for or not. He said her children got better about following her advice as they got older.

Betty and her children attended Smithsburg High School. Betty would have graduated with the Class of 1955. Instead, she earned her G.E.D. in 1978, the year after Jimmy graduated from high school.

Her first marriage was in 1956. The family lived in the stone house at Bromley's Packing House, which later became Oswald's Orchard.

Betty was an Avon representative for 10 years. For more than five years, she provided in-home care in her Holiday Acres home for United Cerebral Palsy and the Department of Social Services' Adult Foster Care program, before retiring in 1998.

She cared for her birth mother in the last few years of life.

Betty never missed an episode of "Law & Order" and spent hours doing word searches, her family said. Every weekday at 11 a.m., she would watch "The Price is Right" with her 2-year-old grandson, and they would have a snack together before naptime.

Granddaughter Annie Irelan, who lives in Indiana, said her grandmother was firm about supper being served at 5 p.m. -- "not a minute before or not a minute after." She said the head of the table belonged to Nana - "no exceptions."

Betty's health began failing in 2002, when she had a heart attack and was diagnosed with abdominal issues that took several years to resolve. She moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, Craig Gilbert, in their Halfway home in 2002.

Verdier-Gilbert said her mother's death was sudden, that she got sick on Sept. 7 and was hospitalized for septic shock and kidney failure before her death Sept. 19.

Betty had been a member of the Welty Church of the Brethren in Smithsburg since 1976.

"She was well respected," wrote Irelan's husband, Dwayne Irelan.

People listened to her, because of that respect, he said.

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