January 11, 1923 ~ January 19, 2012
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Betty Jo Williams Mayer died January 19, 2012 at her home in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. Born Betty Jo Williams in Carthage, MO on January 11, 1923 to Paul and Mildred Williams, she grew up in Joplin, MO. Though she lived in California for most of her adult life, she considered Joplin and Southwest Missouri to be her true home. She maintained life-long friendships from high school (Joplin High School, Class of 1940) and junior college (Joplin Junior College, Class of 1942). Her love of music began in Joplin studying piano and violin with the esteemed Rhetia Hesselberg. At the same time, the accomplished Dr. Cora Hesselberg opened her eyes to the cosmopolitan world outside of Joplin. During WWII, she considered becoming a WASP, but ultimately joined the Red Cross and put herself through Chicago's St. Luke's Nursing School (now Rush University College of Nursing) graduating in 1948. She was a registered nurse for 50+ years. She married Dr. Adrian S. Mayer in l950 and settled in California. Though busy raising three children, Betty pursued her musical interests as a violinist with the Peninsula Symphony, earned her BA in Music at Cal State Dominguez Hills in 1976, and taught violin and piano. She became a licensed real estate agent and volunteered her time to several service organizations including the USO, the Torrance Air Fair, as well as local art and music institutions. After suffering a stroke in the late 1980's, she worked with a local stroke survivors group and, later, when she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, she put together a series of programs on low vision for the local seniors group. She also expressed herself creatively as a knit/crochet/needlepoint artist. Though she considered her "handwork" a hobby, one of her pieces is in the permanent collection of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. After her husband's death in 1992 of pancreatic cancer, Betty became a philanthropist giving generously to fund pancreatic cancer research. This renaissance woman will be dearly missed by her friends, relatives and her children, Jo, Judith, and Steven. She will be buried at Pineville Cemetery, Pineville MO on February 4, 2012 at 9am. A memorial celebration in California will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations to Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, www.pancreatic.org or The Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX, www.bobhopeuso.org.