Betty Jo Mayer

betty mayer

January 11, 1923 ~ January 19, 2012

Resided in: 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, or The Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX,

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Memories Timeline


  1. Dear Betty – my very dear Friend, Though you have been sick for a while, I never thought that you would go so soon. I miss you very much. Every Friday after my bridge game, there will be a void in my heart because that’s when I should be visiting you but now you are in a different but better world. Rest in peace, my dear friend…… Bee-De

  2. Our deepest condolences to Jo Judith and Steven. We met Betty during her short stay at Belmont Village. She was always positive and encouraging to others, and, even with her MD, kept up correspondence with my elderly father after she left. May you remember all her lovely strengths, gifts and beautiful spirit. We join you in missing her.

  3. My wife Lianne and your mom got to be friends after we moved next door in 2002. Lianne is the one who arranged for Betty’s work to be displayed at the Fashion Institute and is thrilled that it was so significant to Betty. I really enjoyed tracking down “issues” at the house and fixing them for her, as well as sharing memories of World War 2. The neighborhood seems a bit empty without her. Be sure to let us know when the service is, tho I know from personal experience that this is a busy time for you. Let us know what we can do to help.

  4. With sincere belated sympathy to you & your family for the loss of your mother, Betty. She was a dear friend since the 80’s. She first was a customer of my shop. We stayed in contact & remained friends, even after I closed my business in early 90’s, until the end. We enjoyed lunching & shopping together. Later we visited together & talked on the ‘phone. Your mother was wonderful & generous person. She will be missed. May she rest in peace. Yours truly, Gerry Widdup

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. I was in the DAR with Betty and over the past few years would often go over to her home when she called to let me know she had items to donate to the veterans. I always enjoyed visiting with her and seeing her at our luncheons, including our holiday luncheon just a few weeks ago. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this time.

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