Betty Lee Neale Johnson was born Oct. 1, 1923, in Stockton, to Charles and Juanita Davis Neale. She married Darrell Wayne Johnson May 11, 1941 in the family home of her grandparents, Claude and Jessie Davis, on the corner of Oak and South Street.
Betty and Darrell settled in Stockton, operating a photography studio and then a grocery store, both on the square, prior to Darrell enlisting in the Navy.
Once Darrell was stationed in San Diego, Betty took the train cross-country to live with him for the duration of his service. When the war ended, they returned to Betty’s beloved Stockton. Betty opened her dress shop and loved driving her convertible to the clothing markets in Kansas City. Their first child, Neale Wayne was born Nov. 9, 1947, and by 1950, Betty and Darrell had moved to his grandmother’s farm house near his family farm South of Caplinger Mills.
On Dec. 10, 1950, Richard Lance was born and died within a few days. Oct. 10, 1952, Penny Piper was born. Betty embraced rearing her children: hosting their parties, Sunday afternoons skiing and playing in the Sac River, decorating the house for every holiday and hosting family dinners. Betty and Darrell were active in the Stockton Methodist Church and served as leaders in many capacities through the years. Betty and Darrell helped consolidate multiple community events into the Black Walnut Festival and remained co-chairs for over 50 years.
After Darrell’s passing in 1995, Betty moved to Stockton and built her home near the woods where she played as a child. She continued to serve the community: Stockton United Methodist Church (planning committee for the Church Family Life Center, Bereavement Committee), Stockton Nursing Home Board, Mothers of Preschoolers, member of the Chamber, and a staunch supporter and Sponsor of the Black Walnut Festival.
But most significantly, Betty loved walking around town visiting with people along the way. She always had a smile and a hug for everyone. Her spirit was as bright as her smile. She encouraged each person to do their best, to reach for the stars, to always be kind and positive to everyone they encounter. She was a source of inspiration to people of all ages and stages of life. Her presence will be sorely missed, not only by her family, but by the entire Stockton community.
Betty is survived by her brother Bill Neale, wife Jan, and sister-in-law Marjorie Johnson; her son Neale Johnson, wife Frances, children Ryan and Ashley; her daughter Piper Johnson Price, daughter Summer and step-sons Aaron and Joshua; Great-grandchildren: Hannah, Finn, Lilly, Neale, Rowan, Davis, John Henry, Tucker, Christopher, Mickey, Ella, Wallie and Cyrus; and a myriad of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Private family services to be held at a later date.
Betty will be laid to rest beside Darrell and Richard Lance in the family plot in Stockton Cemetery.