Bettie Spring Wood 1927 - 2022

Bettie Spring Wood, a long-time resident of McMinnville and Hillsboro, Oregon, died January 4, 2022, at Rock of Ages Valley View Retirement Village. Bettie was born July 14, 1927, in Sheyenne, North Dakota, to Lillian (Soderholm) and Leo Spring. Her family, including brothers, Al, Gordon and Willis, moved to Butte, Montana, in the early 1930s, where she attended grammar and high school. She had vowed that she would meet her future husband before her 16th birthday. One week before that date in 1943, she met a young Navy pilot attending flight school in Butte. His buddy introduced him as “Woody,” but he looked at Bettie and said, “My name is Keith Wood.” She knew her future was sealed.

But WWII was raging, so Bettie attended Linfield College in McMinnville while she waited to be able to marry Keith. That was the beginning of the couple’s long connection to McMinnville. Bettie and Keith were married in Butte in the summer of 1946, and Bettie went on that year to travel, alone, to Keith's posting on the island of Okinawa. The couple also sandwiched in a short honeymoon excursion to Shanghai, China. On Keith's discharge from the Navy, they returned to McMinnville for Keith to finish college at Linfield while Bettie worked there.

Beginning a 50+ year odyssey, Keith's studies and work then took the family from McMinnville across the country, with stays in Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma, California and, finally, Oregon again. Amid those moves, Bettie and Keith welcomed three boys to the family, Kevin, Carter and Tracy.

Bettie studied children's literature to foster her children’s love of reading. Based on the wonderful descriptions in the Mary Norton book, “The Borrowers,” Bettie and Keith recreated the little house under the floor boards where the miniature family lived. The Borrowers' House was displayed at the McMinnville Library and then toured schools and libraries around the state to encourage student interest in reading.

Finally settling in Hillsboro, and as the boys got older, Bettie went to work as a medical assistant for doctors Bill Ferguson and Fred Nachtigal. That work eventually led to her return to school for her RN degree from Portland Community College. She worked as an Intensive Care Nurse at OHSU in Portland, and then for many years at Tuality Community Hospital in Hillsboro. She said her favorite nursing assignment was the maternity ward!
During those busy years, Keith's niece Susan, daughter of his sister Marge, spent three summers with the family as the resident nanny for the boys. Those summers solidified Susan's role as surrogate daughter, a close relationship that continued through the years.

The Wood boys were exchange students to Sweden, Germany and Bolivia. In reciprocity, Bettie and Keith hosted a German exchange student, Beatrice. Those exchanges led to subsequent visits to host families in Sweden and Germany and return visits for the host families to Oregon. In retirement, Bettie and Keith also enjoyed trips to England, Scotland and New Zealand

Bettie loved her retirement, which was highlighted with a move back to McMinnville and setting up a home on the small cul-de-sac, Huckleberry Court. The neighbors on the Court became extended family, especially Betty Zorn, Steve and Debbie Randles, and Ann Hartman. While Keith built his woodworking shop, Bettie converted an extra bedroom into her sewing room and started building her skill and talent into beautiful quilts. She renewed old friendships from her Linfield days, and expanded her world with a quilting group and book-club meetings. Bettie and Keith were particularly close to Keith's sister, Marge, and her husband, Don Heyman, who lived in Port Orford on the southern Oregon coast: the two couples exchanged many visits. For six years the two couples also shared the care of Keith's mother, Florence. Bettie was still nursing with love even after she retired!

After Keith's death in 2005, widow Marge joined widow Bettie every winter in McMinnville, where they fought the winter blues with lunches with friends; theater, movie and concert events; teas in the afternoon with neighbors; and wine or champagne in the evenings. They also had wonderful visits to Bettie's brother, Gordon, and wife, Patsy, in Palm Springs where the “girls” hit every resale shop in town. Nephew Larry Spring would take the ladies out to dinner often. Also, niece Susan would visit each year to be Bettie's Christmas elf, decorator and organizer. Bettie’s boys visited often, flying or driving in from their far-flung busy lives. Bettie always had visits from one or more of her sons on Christmas and on her birthday.
In 2016, Bettie moved to Rock of Ages Valley View, where she was visited often by friends and family. Her family wishes to thank all the staff there for their kindness and care.

Bettie is survived by her three sons, Kevin, Carter and Tracy Wood. She told a friend that “raising her sons was delightful.” Her sons think being raised by Bettie was delightful, too. They all continue to follow her example as enthusiastic, educated readers with a love for travel and exploring the world.

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