Betty Kirkland McDonald, 82, Village Mills
Betty Kirkland McDonald, 82,Village Mills passed away November 12, 2016. She was born on July 11, 1934, in Lufkin, Texas, to James and Lillie Kirkland. A longtime resident of Port Neches andNederland in Jefferson County, Betty lived her last ten years in Village Mills, HardinCounty. Like her family ancestors reaching back to the early 1800’s, she was a lifetime resident of East Texas.
Betty graduated from Port Neches High School (now Port Neches-Groves High School) in 1952. She dedicated the following ten years to mothering her family—five children, in all—then soon began her career outside the home. An exceptionally intelligent person, Betty worked diligently to improve her position. Early jobs included cooking donuts at a Woolworth’s lunch counter and selling Avon door to door. She then gained employment as a county welfare caseworker. She continued to be promoted in her work, eventually retiring in 1994 as a supervisor for the Texas Department of Human Services in its Jefferson Countyoffices.
Betty led a life of quiet service to others. She was devoted to her children, for whom she was a single parent for years, steadfastly teaching them the virtues of responsibility and ethical behavior. She often helped friends and neighbors threading their way through the intricacies of Medicaid disability assistance and other bureaucratic systems, both private and public. After retirement, she served as a volunteer for twenty years with the Al-Anon information center in Beaumont.
Known to family, friends, and colleagues for her resilient and independent character, Betty also was known to think for herself while declining to impose her thinking on others. She held strong views but did not advertise them. She was a private person with a sharp sense of humor, and held a short attention span for boasters and chronic complainers. She adhered to the values of discretion and loyalty. She took great joy in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Betty also had a passion for reading and gardening. She was an accomplished cook, with a fondness for fried shrimp and fresh salad and iced tea—or any meal celebrated over a family gathering, of which there were many. Her children, though spread far and wide geographically, from New Mexico to Wisconsin to Europe, always remained close to her. Betty especially enjoyed traveling, and did so frequently until a disabling accident in 2014 left her, for the most part, homebound. Her last two years were difficult but she remained as resilient as ever. She died at home with family, where she wanted to be.
Surviving family members include husband, Dennis McDonald; children, Christopher Cook, Wayne Cook, Sidney Cook, Sheila Ellingson, and Scott Cook; grandchildren, Athena Gerbsch-Cook, Cameron Cook, Carson Cook, Conor Cook, Benjamin Julik, Alison Vruno, Aubrey Cook, Josh Cook, and Constance Cook; and great-grandchildren, Asa Christopher Montie, Christopher Joseph Vruno, Andrew Joseph Vruno, Kirkland Cook, Jordyn Kay Cook, and Eva June Cook.
Betty’s funeral service will be held Saturday, November 19, 2016, at Wildwood Village Mills United Methodist Church, 5934 FM Rd. 3063, Village Mills, Texas. An open-casket viewing to say good-bye will begin at 10:00 a.m., with her funeral service at 1100 a.m., at the church, under the direction of Broussard’s, Kountze. There will be an informal lunch gathering of family and friends at the church afterward to celebrate Betty’s life, with her interment to follow at 2:30 p.m., at Oak Bluff Memorial Park, Port Neches, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Wildwood Village Mills United Methodist Church, or to an organization of one’s choice.