In Memory

Betty Clifton

Betty Clifton


Elizabeth "Betty" Annette Clifton

 Born: September 03, 1946 Died: June 29, 2016

Elizabeth (Betty) Clifton was born on Labor Day, Sept. 3, 1946 to Frederick & Winifred Clifton. She spent her first years in Ballard and then her family moved to a wonderful home on Angle Lake in SeaTac when Betty was 13 years old. This was to remain her place of residence for most of her life. She graduated from Mt. Rainier High School in 1964 and attended the 50th reunion in 2014  After high school, she graduated from the UW with a degree in Classical Greek and then went on to get her medical degree at the UW Medical School. She had a thriving private practice in downtown Seattle for a number of years and was a beloved and caring physician until health issues forced her to retire from medicine. Betty had a passion and great talent for art, in particular drawing and painting, and she spent many years pursuing that passion. She was an avid and successful gardener, often out in her beautiful gardens from dawn to dusk. She enjoyed collecting rare books and stamps, as well as pottery and pretty much anything she considered beautiful. She was bright, engaging and the family historian. To all who knew her, Betty was kind and helping, possessing a colorful and charismatic character, often dressing in the latest trends of the day, if not retro styles. She was rarely without multiple necklaces and rings, the more the merrier. Most important to Betty was her love for God, family, and of course her dogs, for which she had many over her entire adult life. She understood her need for a close walk with Jesus and this carried her through times of trouble. A prolific poet… her poems beautifully illustrated her passion for God, his creation, and his help in times of difficulty. Those who knew her dearly, loved Betty. She loved to gift people with small treasures from her collections and from her artwork, as well as sending handmade cards for every occasion, many of which were sent without any occasion whatsoever, except to express her care and love. Even her young great-grandnephews and grandnieces have expressed sadness in hearing of her passing, feeling the loss, and knowing they will no longer be receiving her sweet notes in the mail. We will all miss Betty, but we take solace, gladness and joy in knowing that she is at rest, reunited with her beloved parents and with her Savior and Lord.

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07/06/16 08:29 AM #1    

Jim Cissell

Thanks for posting this, Polly Kaiser Heinselman.

07/07/16 06:52 PM #2    

Judy Gelner (Curran)

Betty Clifton was the first person I met when I came as a new student from Canada in the 8th grade.  It was Betty's first day as well at Chinook Jr. High School.  She was extremely bright and I remember her brother was getting straight A's at UofW at the time.  We sat together in many classes and studied and worked on projects together over the years.  Her father was my dentist!   I lost track of Betty over the years and am so sorry I was not at the 50th reunion to see her.


07/28/16 10:17 AM #3    

Polly Kaiser (Heinselman)

Jim wright (cousin of Betty) sent the following information concerning Betty Clifton's memorial service:  Please spread the word!


  • Service Monday, Aug 1, 2016 2:00 PM  at Green Lake Presbyterian Church,318 Linden Ave N, Seattle, Washington 98103 . There will be a reception following the service in the fellowship hall. Please come with memories to share about Betty! 
  • My cousin, Elizabeth (Betty) Clifton passed away three weeks ago. Betty had been ill for some time and had a stroke and passed away just before her birthday. She and I were born three weeks apart.
  •  Jim Wright.

07/29/16 01:00 PM #4    

Mary Ellen Russell (Van Zyl)

Betty and I began our friendship at Chinook and spent our first year of University at the UW living at the UCU women's house. Betty was so bright so kind and caring. . .a soul full of grace. Rest in peace dear one.

Mary Ellen Russell

07/30/16 08:15 AM #5    

Liana Linder (Nordell Wiik)

I've been trying to find the words to express my appreciation for Betty. I met Betty, as many of the others of you, at Chinook in seventh grade. I had known her grandma before that, so we immediately connected. We shared our faith in Christ, and that cemented our friendship. I considered Betty my best friend at school. Even when I visited with her at our 50th reunion, she reminded me of some of our shared "secrets." We both had a crush when we were sophomores on a senior football player! She brought that up two years ago, even the "code" name we'd designated so others wouldn't know who were talking about. I remember one time she dropped her books by his locker just so he'd pick them up for her. Those were the days!!

Betty and I had a prayer-partner relationship, too. We often ducked into the "little girls' room" so we could pray for each other before tests. We prayed together for our fellow students, too. She had a great love all of you, and was eager to share the peace and joy she had found in Jesus.

I had the privilege of working with her for two years on our TOR yearbook. I remember when she became the chief editor and wanted to branch out from the traditional yearbook format and put strategic photos on the cover as well as other innovations inside. That had never been done before. I also believe she was behind the little stuffed ram that was created and sold as a fund-raiser. I remember her science project with fruit flies. She was able to obtain, at great difficulty, a small quantity of thalidimide, the anti-nausea drug given to pregnant women in the fifties, I believe. It caused great deformities, like flippers for limbs, in particular. I think the only way she was finally able to obtain some was through her father's connection as a dentist. She had a control group of fruit flies to compare with the test group. The group that consumed the drug had deformities. It was a wonderful science project.

I remember she told me she slept with a copy of "Gone with the Wind" under her pillow, hoping she would absorb it by osmosis. It was her favorite book at that time.

All in all, I always looked forward to seeing Betty at our reunions. One of my regrets in going away so far for college and staying in the midwest was losing contact with her. My mom would always update me on her life. I will greatly miss seeing her in any future reunions I may be privileged to attend. God bless her memory.

Liana Linder Wiik


07/30/16 09:03 AM #6    

Judy Gelner (Curran)

Liana - Your story about the science project brings back a memory of my science project - skulls of different animals, insprired by using a human skull, complete with teeth, that Betty's dentist father loaned to me from his dental practice.  I won't go into the finding and processing the other skulls! - Centainly something I wouldn't consider doing today!

08/23/16 11:22 AM #7    

Polly Kaiser (Heinselman)

Posted in Forum 7/30/2016

Karl Myhre

Karl and I attended the memorial for Betty Clifton on Monday and it was a wonderfully touching service. Neither Karl nor I were actually acquaintances of Betty's - We weren't exactly in the Top Ten group of the class. After hearing many amazing things about Betty and her life, we certainly realize what an opportunity we missed by not knowing her. She was loving, creative and a very caring family-oriented person. She struggled mightily, however, with anorexia her whole life beginning, apparently, at age 16 before there was much awareness of the illness.  Her brother said that, as intelligent as she was, she couldn't overcome the illness.

I wish there had been others from our class there, as her family members were very taken that we had come.

Karl & Sherilyn Myhre

08/23/16 11:25 AM #8    

Polly Kaiser (Heinselman)

THOM LEETOLA posted 7/30/2016 in Forum

Karl & Sherilyn... thank you for your post on attending Betty's memorial gathering.  I did not know her well in school, but from what I have read I wish I had... she obviously was a very special person.   Thom Leettola

08/23/16 02:37 PM #9    

Polly Kaiser (Heinselman)


Memories of Betty Clifton    From  Toni  Jean  Meneses (Alquist)

A few weeks ago my husband handed me an Email  posted by Sherilyn Myre  regarding Betty's passing.  Her Facebook page stated she died June 29th.   I missed the story about the science project, so I don't know if Liana is referring to  9th Grade science at Chinook Jr. Hi.    I don't remember Betty's project, but I do remember she was always focused on substantial subjects whether we were walking the halls or riding the school bus.

 I first met Betty in 8th grade after her family moved to Angle Lake.  My family moved to Angle Lake from the Des Moines beach my last quarter of 6th grade.  After more than a year of lakeside parties, Shore Club dances, and much adolescent silliness,  I saw a serious girl with an easel painting on her lake front lawn.  I have no artistic skills, so it wasn't art that drew me into intense conversations with Betty.  It was our differing beliefs about Bible doctrine.  Betty belonged to a strict Christian religion and I was in the process of converting to a cultic, supposedly Bible based  religion.  It doesn't  surprise me that Betty earned a degree in classical Greek.  Even in 8th grade she was familiar with New Testament(Koine) Greek.

At the 20 year reunion, as we were all walking to the pool for the group picture, a pleasant lady with a pager on her waist turned to me and said "Toni!".  I had no idea who she was until she said "Betty Clifton".  I told her I had clearer memories of Chinook Jr. High than High School because I spent half  my High School years at Federal Way Hi and  at that time I had become more  involved in the religion I converted to in 8th grade.  I then told her  and that when Larry Blais called me about the 20 year reunion, I was open to attending because I had left the religion in 1979.  At that point Betty said "We have to talk some more."  After the group picture, I didn't see Betty again, so I figured she must have been paged or she left before the dancing.  At Chinook Jr. High , Betty was excused from  P.E. on dancing days because her religion disaproved of dancing.

 When I read Betty's profile in the 20 year reunion publication that she was  an M.D. with an office in the Medical Dental Bldg., I called my uncle's wife who was a lab technician there.  I asked my aunt if she knew of a doctor Betty Clifton in the building.  She replied "You must mean Dr. Elizabeth ".  Then my aunt told me what an amazing person Dr. Elizabeth was:  so commited to her patients, a writer, talented artist, and Greek scholar.  This connection with my aunt led to further conversations with Betty and a visit to her office where some of her paintings were displayed.

 Betty didn't attend the 30 year reunion.  One of our classmates told me  Betty had opened a clinic with Virginia Gilmore.   My aunt confirmed thatBetty had closed her office and was practicing somewhere else.   Virginia told me she and Betty worked at the same rehab hospital.  We started talking about Des Moines and  I  forgot to ask Virginia about  the clinic.

 Sometime between the 30 and 40 year reunions my aunt told me  Betty had gone through a medical crisis and was no longer practicing  medicine.  I called her before each reunion to ask her if she planned to attend.  She attended the Saturday evening dinner of the 40th reunion with her father.  Her sister brought her to the Friday night session of the 50th.  She was  using a walker because she had broke her leg.  It wasn't easy for her to come,  but she told me her high school years were important.  I regret that I don't remember her at Mt. Rainier, but am grateful we reconnected  in a  positive way.   Actually,  we  never  really argued; only disagreed.  Betty was always calm.  She never raised her voice.  I feel priviledged to have known her.

 My granddaughter SarAlee  helped me with this lengthy message.  She will be 9 on August 29th.  During the course of this message she asked me "What's a pager?"  I told her it was a  forerunner of the cell phone.


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