Betty Tarkington | Silsbee Bee | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

Just look at her hands. A grandmother’s hands. A mother’s hands. A wife’s hands. Look at her hands, the hands that could sew for hours, the hands that could bake the most delicious meals and hold an infant close.

Betty Jean Tarkington was born April 13,1944 to Hazel and Dual Ray Stuart in Orange, Texas. She often moved from school to school as her dad had many occupations. The family eventually settled in Silsbee where she attended Silsbee High and graduated in the class of 1963. She was a proud member of the Silsbee High School Tigerette drill team. She often reminisced about their drive and dedication in the “kick hat” days.

The high school beauty often worked for Mr. and Mrs. Price at the Dixie Queen. One evening a handsome young chemical engineering student swung by the Dixie Queen to meet a girl for a date. For some reason, that girl did not want to see Ray Lee that night and hid behind the root beer barrel. Unfazed, Ray Lee noticed another Dixie Queen server, a striking young woman with jet-black bouffant hair. He ordered a cherry vanilla coke and asked Betty Jean Stuart if she wanted to go out. The Silsbee High School Tigerette saw Ray Lee’s smile, and when her shift was over, they went riding in Ray’s candy apple red Corvair and listened to Elvis Presley. The ride lasted more than four decades.

Ray Lee and Betty Jean were married in 1963. Betty endured the loss of the love of her life on April 20, 2006. Fifty-seven years later, that candy apple red Corvair has grass peeking out through the hubcaps. During that time four children and seven grandchildren have grown, along with Betty’s impeccable reputation for kindness and generosity.

Now come inside the kitchen of the log home that was built for Ray Lee and Betty Jean, by friends and family. Listen for a moment to the love that pours from the hearts she touched. The same kitchen where she would bake mouthwatering meals and baked goodies to carry to friends all over town. Betty Jean was arguably the best cook in Silsbee. She loved to bake and carry warm muffins, breads, and meals to all of her friends, and rarely passed up an opportunity to serve at church functions.

Betty Jean was a member of Pinecrest Baptist Church. She was delighted in the fact that as a teenager she was baptized while attending Woodrow Baptist Church.

Betty Jean and Ray Lee were blessed with their first grandchild in 1992. They then went on to have six more grandchildren to adore. Betty Jean dedicated the rest of her life to loving and caring for those grandchildren. She loved to attend all the school parties and functions which spanned from All Faiths preschool to High School and College graduations. The grandchildren and serving God were her life’s mission.

She took great pride in Tori Tarkington, Clint Tarkington, Tanner Tarkington, Carley Shutter, Cristofer Gelman, Shelby Tarkington, and Taylor Shutter. She is survived by Carla Tarkington-Shutter and her husband, William; Danny Tarkington and his wife, Jill; Lisa Tarkington; and Melissa “Missy” Tarkington Gelman and her husband; Mitch; and brother, Ray Stuart and his wife, Gail. She is also survived by Carl “Jack” Evans, who has been a lifelong friend of the family and a loving husband.

A gathering of Mrs. Tarkington’s family and friends was from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at Broussard’s, 490 Cemetery Road, Silsbee. Her funeral service was at 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 16, 2020, at Broussard’s, with her interment at Resthaven Cemetery, Silsbee.

The pallbearers for the funeral were Rex Tousha, Jack Flowers, Bob Lyle, Ted Garcia, Euger Deets, and Clint Tarkington.

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