“Go ask Betty”
Betty Clayton, 51, died at home on Monday, Jan. 10, after a brief struggle with pancreatic cancer.
Betty served Santa Fe College since 1985 in the role of Financial Aid Specialist and for a short stint as Associate Director of Financial Aid. Betty originally began working in Finanical Aid as a College Work Study Student in 1978.
“Betty was the most knowledgeable employee in this office. Professionally, this is a huge blow,” said Maureen McFarlane, Director, Financial Aid. “Betty used to describe herself as being ‘self-diagnosed ADD.’ She was always busy. She did so many things, and she did them quickly and she got them done.”
Betty won the Quarterly Employee Recognition Award in January 2008, and her colleagues describe her as being smart and kind hearted with a passionate zest for life.
“She was the office comedienne,” McFarlane said. “She was soooo funny. She made us all laugh. She liked to point out the absurd.”
Betty was the institutional memory for the Financial Aid department as well. She possessed the ability to recall the names of students, former co-workers and even briefly-employed Work Study students from 20 years ago. She loved to eat — calamari and chicken wings were favorites — and kept a “pantry” in her desk drawer. She also loved veterans and would shepherd student vets through the financial aid process.
“A lot of the students, especially the veterans, just adored her,” said her long-time friend, Deb Crumpton.
Both Betty’s dad, who is deceased, and her brother, Allen, were vets. She also leaves behind her husband, Richard Morgan, her long-term partner whom she married just weeks ago, soon after being diagnosed, and her sister, Louise, and another sister and her mother, both named Delores. Betty had no children of her own and never cared to have any. She had also vowed never to marry.
“She worked hard and played hard and lived life to the fullest on her own terms,” said Crumpton. “She didn’t care what anybody else thought. And she adored her family.”
Betty chose to forgo wearing makeup except on very special occasions and had the same tube of lipstick for 20 years. She would put on a pair of earrings to “dress up,” said her friend, Sheree Locke. Her pals in Financial Aid even once surprised her with a clothes shopping trip to fill out her wardrobe, since Betty wasn’t one to spend money on herself.
Betty lived on a lake in Hawthorne and loved the water. Her hobbies included fiber arts, such as knitting and cross-stitch, along with outdoor activities like fishing and gardening.
“She could take a sprig of gardenia and turn it into a bush,” said McFarlane.
She was also an avid and fast reader and a huge Carl Hiassen fan.
Betty was a member of the Keep Your Day Job Singers comprised of Financial Aid employees June Pressley, Crumpton, Susan Thompson, Peggy Werts, and McFarlane. They wrote their own tunes and performed at retirement celebrations and office retreats.
McFarlane said Betty and Steve Fisher and Peggy Werts were super close. They had all worked together since 1985.
“She was close to everybody in a different way,” explained McFarlane.
“Betty was the go-to person for a lot of different departments,” added Crumpton.
And she was also the go-to person in Financial Aid.
“She was always willing to help you in any way she could,” said Renee Williams. “She was relied on heavily by us.”
“I bet I called her 20 times a day,” said Locke.
Middle photo: Keep Your Day Job Singers in action, from left to right, Susan Thompson, Deb Crumpton, Peggy Werts and Betty
Bottom photo: The Financial Aid department on “wear purple” day. Betty is in the middle row, kneeling, third from the left.
Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14 at Knauff Funeral Home, 512 E. Noble Ave., Williston, FL 32696.
The Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 15 at Holy Family Catholic Church, 17353 N.E. 27A, Williston, FL 32696.