Betty Eloise Monette White passed away on October 25, 2023, at age 90, in Salem, Oregon.
She was a loving and devoted wife to Dr. John D. White for 65 years, and cherished mother to Beth, Julie, and James. She was also a proud grandmother to Sam, Bonnie, Jamie, Katie, Daniel, John, and Ben.
Born on July 21, 1933, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Julian Dunbar and Georgine Wilhemina Monette, Betty emerged as a talented musician and mezzo-soprano singer at Jackson High, graduating from Belhaven College with majors in singing and piano in 1955. She sang dozens of major operatic roles with the New Orleans, Detroit, and Portland operas in the 1950s and 60s. She also sang with the symphonies of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Detroit, and Mobile, and continued to perform professionally until 1980.
Betty won the American Opera Auditions in 1957, and just weeks away from a tour in Italy, she chose the path that made so many more happy lives possible. In 1958, she married John D. White, a soon-to-be prominent neurosurgeon, and started a family in Ann Arbor Michigan, where Beth and Julie were born in 1964 and 1965. During this time, Betty taught in elementary and junior high schools to keep the family finances stable while her husband completed medical school. In 1968, the family moved to Salem, Oregon, where James was born in 1970.
In Salem, Betty continued her musical pursuits part-time, while raising kids and managing the household. In constant motion, Betty could be found on the farm running the tractor, mowing the yard, driving the loader, and taking care of the place inside and out. She was an avid tennis player and a member of a bowling league. For many years Betty and John enjoyed trap shooting. In the 1980s she began showing Quarter Horses, riding them to many awards and accolades. After he retired John and Betty took up golf, spending the winter months in Palm Desert. Betty even got a hole in one on the PGA West course! She was also an accomplished sculptor and stained glass artist.
An indomitable extrovert, Betty could form lasting friendships with anyone she might bump into. Nobody was a stranger to her. Through her many pursuits, she touched the lives of hundreds of people who admired her humor, spunk, kindness, enthusiasm, and adventurous personality. Betty made everyone in her life feel important and trusted without reservation.
Betty is survived by her husband John, daughters Beth (Andy) Kerr, Julie Pryor, son James (Jennifer) White, and seven grandchildren.