Betty Jane Nitz a well-known and loved resident of Elk City, Idaho, passed away on Jan. 26, 2018, at Syringa Hospital in Grangeville, Idaho.
Betty was born Nov. 8, 1935, in Glen Callins, Va., to Aubrey and Florence Cooper.
In 1941 her parents with eight children moved from Virginia to Vanport, Ore., where her father worked in a shipyard at night and a saw mill by day. Betty had to stand up all the way, she enjoyed every mile, thought it was a great adventure!
From age 8-12 Betty lived with the elderly, Emma Melis on their farm at Mist, Ore. She did farm work driving a tractor, haying and milking a cow. At age 10 while visiting her parents she delivered her sister Florence.
After the war they moved to Idaho. While the family was at Lucile, Idaho, Betty lived with Opal and George Gill, and went to school at Cow Creek and later at Slate Creek. In 1948 the family moved to Elk City where her dad was head sawyer at Floyd Johnson Sawmill. She attended the Elk City School through the 10th grade and later finished high school through correspondence with American School of Nebraska.
Betty started work as a cook at age 14 in local hunting and fire camps feeding as many as 75-80 at a time. She worked four fire seasons for Earl Cooley and Dan Mongomery, but couldn’t get hired on full time because she was too young!! She also once had a job candling eggs.
She married Wayne Nitz, May 1951 and was married nearly 59 years until Wayne’s death. Of that union they had three children, Eric Nitz, Violet (Vicki) Ash and Randy Nitz.
They instilled in their children they had to work. They have nine grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and one great great-grandson.
Betty trained as a practical nurse at Grangeville General Hospital (now Syringa) and then served as Elk City’s emergency nurse for 19 years working under Dr. Soltman, Morrison and Cone. Her services were free except when she had to give a shot for $2.00.
She was also a notary for 25 years.
At Christmas and Thanksgiving, she would make up goodie baskets with pies, homemade tom and jerry batter, etc. and her kids would deliver them around town to elderly and bachelors. She fed half the town, everyone was welcome to put their feet at the table.
She bought a Café and Bar in 1956 and operated it for seven years. Betty worked at the Elk City Store and when Don and Wayne started Nitz Brothers Packing in early 1960, Betty was also their bookkeeper.
Betty also served as Elk City Postmaster from 1962-1992 and was the first Elk City Postmaster to serve long enough to retire. During her tenure the Post Office grew from 60 boxes in the grocery store to its own building with 600 boxes. After retiring from being postmaster, she became a highway contractor for the post office delivering mail to Red River and Dixie. When she finally ‘retired’ from driving at the age of 81 years, she continued keeping books for the mail line until her death.
Betty served on the Water and Power Association and Booster Club, was a key member in getting Booster Club started and was active in getting roads paved.
Betty and Wayne donated a ‘dog leg’ of airport to the Booster Club to extend the airport for public use.
Betty enjoyed fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobile racing, hunting, riding horses and flying a small Cessna. She wanted to be a bush pilot, but never made it.
She also played piano and tub at the local dances.
Preceding her in death were her parents, Aubrey and Florence Cooper; husband, Wayne; grandson, Cody; siblings, Evelyn Teitgen, John Cooper, Pearl Smith, Paul Cooper, Alice Greenhalgh and Ruth McCulley.
Betty is survived by her sons, Eric (Nancy) Nitz, Randy (Debbie) Nitz; daughter, Vicki Ash; brothers, Billy and David Cooper; sister, Florence Quinn; her grandchildren; great-grandchildren; great great-grandson; and numerous nieces and nephews.
She wrote “It’s not how much money you have or how little (material things you can’t take with you), but the love of family, friends, community that is the most rewarding love a person can ever have and I have had this. My life has been very rewarding and it continues through my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Services will be at the Elk City Baptist Church Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, at 2 p.m. with a potluck to follow.
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