Betty Jean Howard Profile Photo

Betty Jean Howard

d. April 24, 2024

Betty Jean Howard, age 91, of Springfield, left us peacefully on April 24 surrounded by her family at home in Andrew, Illinois. Her life spanned over nine decades of love, wisdom, and passionate cooking and baking. 

 Born on May 10, 1932, her journey began as the proud daughter of Matthew Burl and Jessie Marie Kern Neavill. The oldest of five, Betty grew up on a farm near Fancy Prairie, Illinois where her roots ran deep and her homemaking talents were developed. 

 Betty’s personal life was filled with love and partnership when she married the love of her life, Thomas Edward Howard on April 6, 1952 at the Fancy Prairie Presbyterian Church. After over 50 years of companionship, Tom passed away at home surrounded by loving family on October 1, 2006. 

 Betty was proceeded in death by her parents; an infant daughter, Deborah; her brother Lee Neavill; and her sisters Frances Weidhuner and Susan Bice. 

 Mourning her passing are her daughter, Cheryl (husband Steven) Harvey of Springfield, IL; son, Jerry (wife Debbie) also of Springfield, IL, and her sweet cat, Patch.  

 Her legacy continues through her granddaughter, Amy (husband Shane) Duff of Springfield, IL; grandson, Tommy (wife Gretchen) Howard of Los Angeles, CA; as well as her great-granddaughter, Mya Hampton and great-great-grandson, Avery Johnson of Springfield, IL.

Her sister Mary Murphy of Springfield, IL and several nieces and nephews remain to carry on her memory. 

 Betty graduated from Elkhart High School in 1950 and began working for the Illinois Department of Public Aid. After her children were grown, she worked for Lincolnland Title Company where she stayed for 24 years.

 Betty was renowned for her homemade caramels, cookies, cakes, buttercream chocolate Easter eggs, an array of pies, and comforting meals all crafted from scratch with love and care. 

 Her culinary talents extended to baking and decorating cakes for all occasions that not only tasted delicious, but were works of art. Her innate creativity shown in cakes shaped like raccoons and cats, and birthday cakes with portraits painted in food dyes, one of a 1980’s boy band and another with her great-granddaughter’s portrait.

 Beyond the kitchen, Betty was accomplished at crocheting. She made numerous afghans and shawls for family members and as a part of the shawl group she belonged to at her church. 

 In her quiet time, Betty was an avid reader and loved Christian novels, especially Amish books. She also read Guidepost, collected cookbooks, and gifted many Taste of Home magazines. 

A woman of faith, she was an active 50-year member of Third Presbyterian Church, took part in innumerable dinners and church events, and served for years as a deacon. Betty, along with her husband Tom, were former members of the Lincolnland Campers Club and enjoyed many years spending time at their favorite campgrounds with friends. Betty was also a member of the Springfield Blood Bank.

 Her quiet nature, quick smile, and talent for making others feel cared for will be deeply missed by all who knew her. She collected angels and gifted hundreds of angel pins over the years—a tangible reminder of her affection. We are thankful for her long life but are even more grateful that it was filled with real and genuine living. Her baking heritage lives on in those she taught: her daughter’s cookies, grand-daughter’s cakes, and daughter-in-law’s caramels.

 Cremation rites will be accorded. A visitation, with the funeral to follow, will be held on Wednesday, May 15 at 10:00 AM at Mott and Henning Funeral Home at 206 North Main Street, in Athens, Illinois. 

Memorial contributions can be made to Third Presbyterian Church and the Animal Protective League. Memorial envelopes will be available at the funeral home. Mott and Henning Funeral Home in Athens is in charge of arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Betty Jean Howard, please visit our flower store.


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