Betty Lea (Jackson) Kirkwood was born January 31, 1943, in Rolla, Mo., to Charlie and Easter LeMae (Lawson) Jackson. She passed away in her home on November 7, 2023. Betty grew up and attended school in Rolla, Mo., and later she met and married Arthur Lee Kirkwood on August 16, 1959. In July of 1960, Betty and Lee moved to Bakersfield, Calif., where Lee worked on a dairy, and they started their family. Three of their four children were born there, Carolyn Lea, Arthur Lee and Elmer Lee. In the summer of 1970, they loaded up their three children, and a pet coyote that caused a stir at the rest stops and moved back home to the Boiling Springs area. They bought land next to Lee’s parents and started their own dairy, while Betty started her own business in raising dogs and soon they welcomed a fourth child, Michael Lee.
Betty had a great love for all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren that also extended to her nieces and nephews. She was always ready to hold any new baby that came her way. She also had a passion for rescuing any orphaned critters that Lee would bring home from the logging woods, squirrels, raccoons, deer, you name it, all flourished under Betty’s care. She would keep a newborn squirrel in her pocket to keep warm and feed every couple of hours, and she even made friends with a raccoon that would manage to get into her kitchen and steal cookies… more than a few times. Betty’s flowers were always beautiful. When driving by Lee and Betty’s home, you would always see her bent over pulling weeds and tending her garden.
Betty and Lee then went into partnership with another dairy and moved to the Mountain Grove area for a time. After several years, they moved back home to the Boiling Springs area, converted the old milk barn into dog kennels, and continued to breed and sell Pekingese.
Betty was also an amazing cook. She spent a few years as a cook at the Texas County Rest Home. She sent large amounts of food to all the family gatherings and made sure the work crew, also known as family, was well fed at the molasses mill. For the last several years, Betty faithfully attended the Licking Pentecostal Holiness Church, deepening her faith in God.
Betty is preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Lee Kirkwood; grandson, Arthur Lee Kirkwood III (Bubby); as well as her brothers, Ronald Jackson and his wife Jackie, Norman, Jackson, Floyd Jackson and Marvin Jackson; sisters, Marjorie Jackson, Phyllis Mace and Virginia Bryant.
She is survived by her children, Carolyn (Robert) Trentham, of Licking, Arthur Kirkwood, of Eminence, Elmer (Rhonda) Kirkwood, of Licking, and Michael (Misty) Kirkwood, of Mountain Grove. Also, by her granddaughters, Kelly (John) Goins, Melissa (John) Hathcock, and Kaitlyn Trentham; grandsons, Christopher Trentham, Nathaniel Trentham, Devin Kirkwood, Adam Kirkwood and Lee Kirkwood; as well as, 14 great-grandchildren; one great-great-granddaughter; sisters, Barbara (Joe) Kieran, of Knoxville, Tenn., Cindy Rife (Gary Starnes), of Mesquite, Nev., and Karen Mace, of Mountain Grove; her brothers-in-law, Claude Bryant, of Paramount, Calif., and Leon Mace, of Plato; sisters-in-law, Annetta Shelton, Bonnie (Larry) Hayes, of Ellis Prairie, and Barbara Fudge, of Licking; and numerous nieces and nephews.
She will be greatly missed for her sweet smile and gentle ways.
A memorial service for Betty will be held on Thursday, November 16, 2023, at 1 p.m. at the Licking Pentecostal Holiness Church with Rev. Erin McConnell officiating. A memorial visitation will be held from 12-1 p.m. Arrangements entrusted to Evans Funeral Home. Online condolences may be left at www.evansfh.com.