Betty Jean McClure, 79, died peacefully from natural causes in Athens, Texas, on December 9, 2016. She was born November 10, 1937 in the LaRue, Texas community to Joe and Vina Costlow, in a house that had no electricity or running water. She always said that she was so glad to leave that used up sand bed where nothing but stickers grew, but she was also proud of where she came from. Betty was a lifelong resident of the Athens community and attended school at LaPoynor and Henderson County Jr. College.
Betty married Weldon McClure when she was 16 years old, and they celebrated 62 years, 10 months, and 25 days of partnership. Their two children, Ronald and Carolyn, are a reflection of the strong values Betty instilled their family such as honesty, integrity, strong work ethics, professionalism, and that one never wears white after Labor Day.
Betty started working at the Farmers and Merchants State Bank in 1961 and stayed with them through the years as they changed to First State Bank. She retired as Vice President after 39 years of serving as a Loan Officer. Back when very few women worked outside the home, she was a pioneer in the Athens community, as one of the few professional women who worked full time and raised her two children. Betty had the uncanny gift to look her customers in the eye and see the promise of their future. She gave numerous loans to people who had no other recourse, and she trusted them to live up to their commitments, and they followed through. So many people in this community got their start because Betty believed in them, when they often did not believe in themselves.
Betty and Weldon loved to travel. One of her favorite trips was traveling by boat down the Amazon River. For many years, they frequently traveled to their property in Ouray, Colorado. The beauty and solace of nature and gardening were deeply embedded into her heart. She treasured the simple moments of taking a stroll through her woods and absorbing the majestic bounty of the natural surroundings. Some of her happiest moments were when she was cooking, painting, sewing or writing. She epitomized grace and generosity throughout her life.
She was an avid supporter of The East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society and served as one of the original elected board members. She and her fellow volunteers devoted many long hours, working to transform the property from an old truck farm to the beautiful nature sanctuary it is today. Betty also served on the original YMCA Board and was a member of the Twilight Garden Club. She became a Henderson County Master Gardener in 2001 and was a proud member of the first class offered in Henderson County.
Betty is survived by her husband Weldon E. McClure, her children and their spouses, Ronald McClure (Carole) and Carolyn McClure Goodman (Michael).
Betty was known as "Big Mac" to a host of friends and family. She loved being a grandmother and was extremely proud of the achievements of her seven grandchildren and their spouses, Rachel McClure Burk (Dale), Rebekah McClure, Joshua Koviak, Daniel McClure (Kara), Kaci Koviak Wesp (Michael), Laura McClure Vivion (Chaz), and Jonathan McClure.
She is also survived by her three great-grandchildren, Brynn Burk, Joslynn Burk and Adisynn Vivion, plus "three in the chute" who will carry on her legacy after their arrivals in 2017.
Please come and celebrate Betty's life at the Memorial Service at 5:00 PM, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, at Hannigan Smith Funeral Home, 842 S. E. Loop 7, Athens, Texas 75752.
The family will be having a private burial at the LaRue Cemetery and offer their sincerest gratitude for your understanding and support. Memorial contributions may be sent to the place she loved the most, The East Texas Arboretum & Botanical Society, P.O. Box 2231, Athens, TX 75751 (903) 675-5630.
Published on December 12, 2016