Elizabeth Whitfield Burns, Jan. 18, 1919 — Sept. 17, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013 | 2:41 p.m. CDT; updated 4:33 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 26, 2013

Betty Burns, 94, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 in Columbia, MO. surrounded by her family in her room at The Neighborhoods by Tiger Place. Born January 18, 1919 in Oronogo, MO. she was the daughter of Leslie and Birdie (Weaver) Whitfield.

Betty graduated from Alba High School and entered the University of Missouri at the age of 16. She earned her B.S. degree in Home Economics Education in 1939. While at MU she participated in athletics and was awarded the M Blanket for being the outstanding female athlete her senior year.

During her first year of teaching Betty began dating Robert H. Burns, who she had known during college. On June 21, 1942 she and Bob were married in Oronogo, MO. He preceded her in death on May 4, 1970.

She earned a Master of Education degree in 1973 from MU and in 1978 the College of Education presented her the Citation of Merit for her excellence as a high school educator. In 1998 the University of Missouri created the Dynasty Award to recognize three generations of her family as dedicated alumni of the HES College.

Betty taught Vocational Home Economics for 30 years. Four of those years were in Memphis, MO. and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis, MO. In 1955 she began teaching at Fayette High School and retired 26 years later in 1981. She was an outstanding teacher and eight of her former students followed her into teaching Home Economics. Under her leadership the Future Homemakers of America Chapter was brought to state-wide prominence with nine state officers and three national officers. Betty was a member of numerous vocational education associations, a student teacher supervisor for MU, and served on state curriculum committees and accreditation panels throughout Missouri.

Betty was devoted to her family. She was an avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and Missouri Tigers and attended the home football and basketball games until she was 90 years old. Betty was a member of Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, MO., 60 year P.E.O. member and past president of Chapter HK, MU Alumni Association, Alpha Delta Kappa, Phi Upsilon Omicron honorary, Missouri Retired Teachers Association and served as a volunteer at Columbia Regional Hospital for 28 years. She loved traveling, reading, playing bridge, quilting, and making crewel Christmas ornaments for her grandchildren. Betty was an accomplished seamstress and her wonderful recipes are still favorites of her family, former students, and friends.

Survivors include a daughter, Barbara (Ray) Mendenhall of Burlington, IA; a son, James Robert (Tara) Burns of Neenah, WI; three granddaughters: Keri Mendenhall of Burlington, IA, Amy (Gordon) Alvord of Maple Valley, WA, and Addie (Brice) Consani of Gex, France; one grandson; Brandon (Katy) Burns of Osseo, MN; five great grandchildren: Scott and Ryan Alvord, Quinn and Zoe Burns, and Paige Consani; one sister, Marjorie Livingston of St. Louis, MO; one brother, Jim Whitfield of Oronogo, MO; as well as several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, and three sisters, Mary Emma Gibson, Dorothy Willhoyte and Frances Evans.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Linn Memorial United Methodist Church, Fayette, MO of Friday, October 4, 2013 at 11 AM. Visitation will be from 10 to 10:45 AM prior to the service that morning. Interment will be in the Fayette City Cemetery with Friemonth-Freese Funeral Service in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers designated memorials are to the University of Missouri Dynasty Award Scholarship, P.E.O. Continuing Education Fund or the Fayette Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.

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