Friends of Joyce Marie Betties are hoping she’s having a happy time — a tribute to the phrase the vivacious woman said to everyone.
Betties died after being struck by a car on Chetco Avenue last Friday; she was 73.
She was likely headed to Fred Meyer after visiting with people playing cards at the Chetco Activity Center that afternoon.
“She stopped by several times each day,” said Janice Scanlon, director of the activity center. “First she checks in on us, then she lets us know what her day is going to be like, then she’ll swing through and see what’s for lunch, then she’d be back for lunch, then come back to visit with the card players. Whenever Joyce saw cars in the parking lot, Joyce figured ‘Game on!’”
She’ll likely be missed by more than those at the activity center, if social media comments are any indication. People remember Betties walking everywhere in town, finding pennies she’d re-gift to children and cooing over infants and complimenting their mothers.
The community, too, gave back, calling Betties’s daughter Merri Weaver when they thought she might be befriending the “wrong people,” or if the elderly woman didn’t show up somewhere that day.
“They kept an eye on her,” Weaver said. “They watched her, and if she didn’t come to Fred Meyer, Fred Meyer would be calling, ‘Hey, where’s your mom?’ It takes a village to take care of my mother.”
People described her as a light-hearted, caring and generous being.
“It’s such a sad day,” said Sarah Wentz-Hannum, on the Pilot’s Facebook page. “She was an amazing part of our community. I know all of Fred Meyer (employees) will miss her. She was in there every day, telling us stories of when she was a young mother.”
“She could find beauty in everything and everyone,” Weaver said. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to have her in my life these last years. I thank God for the time I’ve had to spend with her.”
Betties made friends easily with the merchants along Chetco Avenue.
“Everyone here loved her; I think the whole town loved her,” Scanlon said. “I bet every merchant along the main street knows her — and has received a painted rock from Joyce. And candy. She was an ever-present source of candy. She’d get candy out of her pockets and give candy to total strangers. It was all driven from kindness.”
“I love seeing her every day — sun, wind, rain, whatever — she was always walking like she had a mission,” Kip Freels wrote on the Pilot Facebook page. “I was concerned though, because she often walked in the ‘bike lane’ on Chetco. I will miss seeing her. Rest in Peace, Joyce.”
Betties’s older sister, Terri Single of Grants Pass, said she bears no grudge against the man who struck her mother. Although the investigation is not complete, she believes her mother stepped from in front of a car stopped for her on Highway 101 and the driver of the other car, not seeing her and pulling into the inside lane of traffic, hit her.
“I saw her every day during my work travels,” said Wendy Cox of Brookings. “She loves to help the kids, giving them pennies. I’m am so sorry, and I will miss her. I worried every time I saw her in traffic.”
The driver, a Gold Beach resident, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The district attorney has yet to decide if he will be charged in the incident.
“It’s a horrible situation,” Single said. “I feel most horrible for my mother, but I really feel bad for the gentleman. I cannot imagine what he’s going through. It’s my biggest fear to hit and hurt somebody.”
The investigation is ongoing. A memorial has been established at the foot of Chetco Lane and another at Rogue Credit Union, where people can make donations to help pay for her celebration of life at 2 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Capella by the Sea at Azalea Park.
“This whole town loved Joyce,” Scanlon said. “She was a character of downtown Brookings. She was a sweet person — to the core of her being: Childlike, sweet and nice to everybody.”
Most people, however, knew her as the lady who walked — everywhere.
“And walked and walked,” Weaver said. “If she were here, she’d say, ‘Don’t cry for me; I’m walking with my angel babies, giving them candy and pennies.”
And, of course, telling them to “Have a happy time.”