Betty J. Wilson, 88, born Feb. 3, 1929, in San Bernardino, Calif., passed away peacefully April 7 at the Pine Ridge Extended Care Facility in Pagosa Springs. She is survived by her brother, Gerald L. Bortle, and his wife, Glenda, who live in Edmond, Okla. She was born to parents Faye Reece and W. Ward.
She lived and attended school in Farmington, N.M. After high school graduation, she married and made a home in Farmington and worked for the local newspaper and picture studio. She developed into a skilled photographer and opened her own picture studio. She was active in the Farmington Professional Women’s Association and was awarded Business Woman of the Year in 1971.
She returned to academic studies and earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of New Mexico in Las Cruces, N.M., in 1974. She was hired by NASA at the White Sands Test Lab near Las Cruces, notably the first woman chemist to be hired at that location. She began a 22-year successful career with NASA and was promoted to senior research chemist and was recognized in developing new techniques and methods using mass spectrometer and other test instruments to test materials for toxic vapors. She was involved in testing materials that were going to be used in the space shuttle programs for all flights of the shuttles from 1975 to 1995, when she retired. She was honored to be given a free trip to Florida to witness an actual space shuttle launching.
After her retirement, she met and married Bob Wilson and began a wonderful time traveling before they decided to move and buy a home in Pagosa Springs in 1998. They embraced the Pagosa Springs community life, finally becoming a full-time caregiver for Bob until he passed away in 2006. She continued to live at her home with the help of friends and neighbors until February 2017, when Visiting Angels supported her continued living in her home.
A special thanks to the Pine Ridge Extended Care Facility, Pagosa Springs Hospice,Visiting Angels and her many friends who had helped and provided life care, especially during the last three years.
Friends of Betty will be gathering to sprinkle her ashes in the mountains near Wolf Creek Ski Area on Sunday, April 23, at 2:30 p.m. Please call Liz if you want to join us, 749-7405.