Betty was born May 25, 1925, in Gibsland, La., to Alma V. and E. Waller Nelson, a dry goods merchant and dairy man. The family grew with the addition of son Edgar a few years later. Betty thrived in a loving family with numerous friends and relations in the Gibsland area. She graduated from high school in 1942 and then went on to earn a degree in business administration from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1946.
Betty then moved to Shreveport, La., to work as a secretary where she met and married Elmer W. Butler of Winnsboro, La., in 1948. The couple had four children in quick succession: John in 1950, Will in 1951, David in 1954, and Virginia in 1955. The family remained in Shreveport until 1963, when Elmer’s job took them to the Atlanta area. Upon Elmer’s retirement in the early 1980s, the couple built and moved into a lovely log home in the mountains of Habersham County near Hollywood, where they lived for more than 25 years. In June of 2011, Elmer and Betty moved to Portland to live near their daughter Virginia.
Betty was a homemaker who supported all the activities of her children (helping out with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church day camp, classroom projects and many others). As the children started to leave home and with more free time, she worked seasonally as a tax examiner for the Internal Revenue Service, and then found her real calling as a book seller at Walden Books in the 1970s. She loved reading and books throughout her life and passed on her passion to countless customers, friends and family. When she and Elmer moved to Clarkesville, she made another “home” at the Book Cellar on the Clarkesville Square and always spoke fondly of the friends she made there.
Throughout her adult life, Betty contributed to the Presbyterian Church (first in Shreveport, then Atlanta at Druid Hills Presbyterian, and finally at First Presbyterian in Clarkesville). She taught nursery school, youth group Sunday school, served on a pastoral search committee and was active in Women of the Church. She loved singing in the church choir, which she did into her 80s. She volunteered for many community organizations including Meals on Wheels, and Sharing and Caring, and was on the board of Friends of the Clarkesville Library. Betty valued the beauty of the north Georgia mountains and supported many organizations that celebrated and worked to protect them (including Friends of the Mountains and the Soque Watershed Association). Betty loved everything related to the British Isles and took several memorable trips there with friends and family. She was a big fan of the LSU Tigers.
Betty had a lively and outgoing personality that attracted many friends throughout her life. She was honest and fair in her dealings with all. She was always ready to help and support a friend in need. She will be sorely missed.
Betty is survived by her four children, John, Will, David, and Virginia; and grandchildren, Lael and Abigail.
Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church in Clarkesville or the Clarkesville Public Library.
The Northeast Georgian
May 18, 2012