Betty Christian passed from this earth in the early morning hours of Nov. 30, 2017. She was 75 years old, her birthday being May 10, 1942. A lifelong resident of Fort Smith, she was the daughter of James William and Geraldine Ward and the older sister of James William Ward of Floral City, Fla. She was preceded in death by her parents, her son and her husband.
Betty was the high school sweetheart of Eddie Christian, and she followed him to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. They lived in Carlson Terrace Apartments while Eddie was in law school, and she worked at the Social Security office. To make extra money, Betty made peanut butter sandwiches and Eddie took them around to dormitories and sorority and fraternity houses to sell to students studying late at night. For a while, they didn’t have a car and depended on other student couples to help out. When Eddie’s father bought them an old Plymouth, they felt like they had struck gold. Betty recalled those days as hard, but fun because they were working toward a common goal.
After law school graduation, Eddie and Betty, and by this time, Eddie Jr., returned to Fort Smith where Eddie practiced law, building a fine reputation mainly as a defense attorney. A daughter, Gerri Ellen, named for both her grandmothers, joined the loving family in 1969.
Betty was a loyal wife and mother, and as the family’s finances grew, so did Betty’s determination to make a lovely home out of each house they purchased. Their final home on Park Avenue was host to many dinner parties and family celebrations. Both Betty and Eddie loved working in the yard, and their three acres were a testimony to that.
Eddie Jr. became a lawyer and practiced law with his father. Eddie Jr. died in 2010, followed by Eddie, Sr. in 2013. By this time Betty was beginning to lose her eyesight and suffering from COPD. Her daughter lived with Betty for a couple of years after her father died. But at Betty’s insistence for Gerri Ellen to live her own life, she returned to her home in Memphis with her young daughter, Ryann.
Betty enjoyed bridge and played with the same bridge group for over twenty years. Her real passion, however, was the Arkansas Razorbacks, particularly the football and basketball teams. While in Hospice Care during the last days of her life, she insisted on wearing an Arkansas Razorback shirt, of which she had many.
Betty fought hard to continue with a full life in spite of her failing vision and breathing problems. This poem by Dylan Thomas exemplifies her valiant struggle:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Survivors are her daughter, Gerri Ellen Adams and her partner, Scott Larkin of Collierville, Tenn.; her granddaughters, Ryann Elizabeth Adams of Collierville, Tenn., and Regan Elise Christian and her mother, Sara Christian Latta and husband, Todd of Fort Smith; and her brother, Jim Ward and his wife Kitty, of Floral City, Fla.
The family wishes to acknowledge Betty’s caretakers at the end of her life: Jill Hartle, Judy Wood and Jerry Davis who cared for Betty with loving compassion. Betty’s longtime neighbor and devoted friend, Nancy Vernon, brought much laughter into her life.
Rosary will be said Sunday at 7 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. A Memorial Mass for Betty Christian will be held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Monday at 10 a.m. following a private burial. A reception at the family home will follow the church service. Services are under the direction of Edwards Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church or the Immaculate Conception Catholic School.
To sign an online guestbook visit www.edwardsfuneralhome.com.