HAMILTON - Karen Gail (Nicholson) Betz passed away peacefully of natural causes on Friday, July 29, 2022.
Karen was born Nov. 16, 1937, in Culbertson, MT, to J. A. “Nick” Nicholson and Mildred Ruth (Connor) Nicholson. She graduated from Culbertson High School in 1955, attended college at South Dakota State in Brookings, South Dakota, and Minot State Teacher’s College in Minot, North Dakota, before ultimately earning her teaching degree from Northern Montana College in Havre, Montana.
Karen married the love of her life, Russell Carter Betz, on August 11, 1957, and they spent their first years of marriage in several small towns in North Dakota, where she gave birth to their first son, Rob, in 1961. Shortly after Rob was born, Karen & Russ moved back to Montana to the town of Chester, where they both taught and Russ coached basketball. In 1967, Karen & Russ moved to Hamilton, MT, where Karen worked as a credit reporter for the Credit Bureau of Ravalli County for 23 years. Their second son, Brent, was born in Hamilton in 1968.
Karen & Russ loved their life in Hamilton. They enjoyed golfing and were the first to build a house on “the hill” across from Hamilton Golf Course. It was in this house that Karen & Russ hosted many parties, entertaining their friends & family while taking in the incredible views of the Bitterroot Valley. The friendships she & Russ made in Hamilton were so important and precious to Karen.
Karen was an avid sports fan and spent years attending the contests that Russ coached, and all of Rob & Brent’s sporting events through middle and high school. She also attended several baseball games of her grandson, Nick. She often said if she had a dollar for every hard bench she sat on watching ball games, she would have quite a bit of money!
After their retirement, Karen & Russ spent their winters in Arizona enjoying the warmer climate. While in Sun City West, they continued to enjoy golfing, attending dinners & dances at the country club, and spending time entertaining friends & family. Karen & Russ celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2007, just months before Russ passed away.
After Russell’s death in 2008, Karen moved back to Hamilton permanently to be closer to family. She was happy to reconnect with old friends & acquaintances while being back in the Bitterroot Valley and was able to catch up on the local sports scene by listening to the Hamilton Broncs on the radio.
Karen will be remembered as a devoted wife, loving mother & grandmother, and dear friend. She had a kind and loving heart, and nothing made her happier than being with friends & family.
Karen was preceded in death by her husband Russ; her son Rob; parents “Nick” & Mildred Nicholson; sister Barbara (Nicholson) Nelson; parents-in-law Paul & Zola Betz; bother- and sister-in-law Arden & Beverly Betz; and brother-in-law Dale Bjorge. Survivors include her son & daughter-in-law Brent & Cassie Betz of Hamilton; her beloved grandson Nick Betz of Idaho Falls, ID; brother-in-law Tom Nelson of Culbertson, MT; sister-in-law Karla Bjorge of Columbia Falls, MT; brother- & sister-in-law Kyle & Julee Betz of Arizona; and several nieces, nephews, and dear friends.
Cremation has taken place, and a celebration of life will be held at a later date. Karen’s family wishes to thank the staff at BeeHive Homes/Parker House–especially Missy and Josie–and the nurses at Bitterroot Health Hospice for the kind & compassionate care they gave Karen in her final days.
Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com
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