Betty Jean (Watkins) McIlvain Fiske, 96, of Garner passed away Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at Concord Care Center in Garner.
Funeral services will be held 2:00 P.M., Saturday, April 24, 2021 at Cataldo Funeral Chapel, 160 E. 4th St., Garner with Rev. Harvey Opp officiating. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery.
Visitation will be held one hour prior to services at the funeral chapel. Memorials can be given to Gateway Hospice, 103 2nd Ave. NE, Clarion, IA 50525.
The family requests that masks be worn during both the visitation and funeral service.
Betty Jean Watkins, the daughter of Lacey and Amanda (Carson) Watkins, was born April 8, 1925, in Mason City. At age six, she moved to live with her Grandmother Watkins in Clear Lake, where she attended school. On May 23, 1941, she married Thomas Claire McIlvain in Bethany, Missouri. In April of the following year, they welcomed a daughter, Connie Mae. During World War II, the family lived in the Puget Sound area of Washington, where both Betty Jean and Tom worked at defense plants that produced battle ships and planes critical to the war effort. Afterward, they returned to Mason City, where they prospered in the construction business, developing Lake Conatoma, Parkridge, Brookside, and Rolling Acres housing developments. Betty Jean acted as both bookkeeper and realtor, and she contributed greatly to the business with her sharp intellect and work ethic. During this period, the family also welcomed a second child, Thomas Robert. In 1963, the family moved to Madison, Kansas, where they operated a ranch. Betty Jean managed the financial records of their cattle business while also actively working on the ranch. In 1968, they moved to Pompano Beach, Florida, where Tom began working as a housing contractor in the Fort Lauderdale area. During this time Betty Jean completed her G.E.D., which she’d postponed in 1941. The family moved to Emmett, Idaho, in 1971, where Tom divided his time between farming and remodeling the family farmhouse, while Betty Jean again managed all of it. In 1978, they retired to Sarasota, Florida.After Tom’s death in 1981, Betty Jean remarried in 1983 and traveled extensively with her second husband, Maxwell Fiske. After Max’s death in 2006, she moved back to Garner to be near her daughter Connie. Betty Jean shared her love of music with her children: her son Tom, who played the cello, and Connie, who was the organist for the Peace Reformed Church for nearly fifty years. It was also Betty Jean’s love of reading and learning that her children inherited. Betty Jean enjoyed gardening, bird watching, and lavishing affection on her little dog Corky.
Betty Jean is survived by her daughter, Connie Mae Greiman of Garner, IA; her son, Thomas (Kathy) McIlvain of Oakton, VA; grandchildren: Blair Greiman, Garner, IA; Beau (Angie) Greiman, Naperville, IL; Jared Greiman, Garner, IA; Brinn (FW) Willis, Lynchburg, VA; and Ryan (Sharon) McIlvain, Tampa, FL; great-grandchildren: Connor and Carson Greiman; Joshua, McKenna, and Emilee Greiman; Georgie, Wyoming, and Ivy Jeanne Willis; Liam and James McIlvain; her sister Donita Evenson, three nephews, and one niece.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husbands, Thomas McIlvain and Maxwell Fiske, and her sisters, Zelma and Mary Anne.
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