Betty Jo Spence, longtime educator and journalist died Sunday, May 10, 2009, in Memorial Hermann Baptist Orange Hospital after a battle with cancer. B.J., as she was lovingly called by those who knew her, died comforted by her longtime friend, Russell Bottley, whom she referred to as “the son I never had.”

After graduating from high school in Ohio as valedictorian of her class, and holding bachelors and master’s degree, B.J. accomplished a professional goal of 50 years in education and retired from Lamar State College-Orange in 2005 as coordinator of public information.

In addition to her love of education, she was a longtime American Quarter Horse breeder and owner. She bred 14 starters, including 10 winners and the earners of $543,434.  Her homebred winners include the Jet Toro mare April Toro and April Toro’s offspring, Snow, in April and I Make Em Shake, a $338,287 earner who won the 2003 Dash for Cash Futurity (G1) and the Texas Sires’ Cup Futurity (RG2).    

Along with Bottley, she is survived by her ex-husband and best friend, Virgil Spence, and many other close and loving friends too numerous to mention. B.J. requested no public service, but a private time of remembrance will be observed at her horse farm in Louisiana at a later date. Those wishing to remember B.J. may do so with a donation to the American Cancer Society, Orange Christian Services, Orange Public Library, or the Chaplain’s Fund at Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton, La.