Bette Jean Mertens passed on February 2, 2021, at the age of 88. The youngest of Arthur and Edith Thorson’s ten children, Bette grew up in the small Iowa farm town of Radcliffe. Her passion in high school was basketball, where she excelled as a guard. Bette was so proud of her teammates and their winning record in a season that culminated in advancing all the way to the Iowa State Championship.
After graduation, the allure of sunny southern California proved too strong to resist and she moved in with her sister Dutch, and began her new life adventure working and attending Glendale Community College.
Not much later, on a fateful night in Pasadena at a single young adults’ group at Holliston Methodist Church, she met a dashing young man named Paul Mertens, a Belgian immigrant, recent Korean War veteran, and UCLA student. Following a whirlwind romance, they married in 1955, soon afterwards starting a family, with first daughter Michele followed by son Michael.
A stay-at-home mom and and always a dedicated nurturer, Bette was active in Reseda Methodist Church, providing and coordinating all the childcare for over 30 years, as well as opening her own home to care for several foster babies. She always had a stash of home-baked sweets to share and her portions were legendary.
After her own children graduated, she worked as a special education assistant with Los Angeles city schools. Retiring in 1992 she sought a simpler, country lifestyle, which brought them to Oakhurst. Here they quickly became immersed in their new community, as regular members of the Oakhurst senior center bridge group, playing weekly at The Parkway. Always a loyal and generous supporter of animal care efforts, Bette contributed to the building of the local animal shelter.
They found their new faith home at Community Church, which later became the New Community Methodist Church, where Bette continued helping with childcare. In her golden years, Bette enjoyed square dancing, spoiling her pets, and was a frequent traveler, visiting over 75 countries on six continents. She is survived by her husband of 65 years Paul, daughter Michele Mertens, son Michael Mertens, and son-in-law John Jacobson.
A service celebrating Bette’s life will be held at the New Community Methodist Church at a later date.