Betty Jean Bybee-Friar was born on October 31, 1929 to William and Neoma Bybee in rural Cedar County, MO. Her father, William, died in a logging accident when she was only three years old. Her mother remarried in 1932 to Samuel (Glenn) Spicer, who was the only father Betty remembered. “He loved us and probably treated us better than a lot of own fathers treated their kids,” recounted Betty. “He was a good man and loved mother with all his heart.”
Betty spent most of her time as a child growing up in El Dorado Springs. “Times were always hard, but we had Mother, and that was the most important thing to us kids,” wrote Betty. “By the time I was in the first grade, things began to get better for the family.”
At the age of 13, Betty got her first job which was at Emmons Grocery in El Dorado Springs where she worked part time until the age of 15. Her next job was at Ben Franklin Five and Dime where she worked until she was 16. She then took a job at International Shoe Company in El Dorado Springs where she stayed until 1947.
On March 6, 1947, at the age of 17 she married Edward Lee Friar. Ed and Betty had met at the skating rink in El Dorado Springs when her friends carried her outside with her skates on to introduce her to Ed, a World War II veteran who was also from the area. After a short engagement, the couple drove on ice-covered roads to Ft. Scott, Kansas to be married by a probate judge with Ed’s sister and brother-in-law as witnesses.
Ed and Betty moved to Tiffin, where she assisted her husband at the small grocery store he owned until they sold the business in 1952. In 1953 they purchased a home on North Jackson Street in El Dorado Springs, and in the years to follow they lived in several homes in El Dorado Springs and Tiffin. During this time Betty worked for several different businesses in town including Bryant Truck Line as office manager, Dr. Sunderwirth’s clinic as an aide, and returned to International Shoe in 1964 where she remained until 1979.
Betty was an active member of the First Baptist Church and throughout her life she had been a charter member of several civic organizations including BPW (Business and Professional Women,) VFW Auxiliary, and POPS (Preserve Our Past Society.)
With her husband, Ed, Betty had four kids: Glenda, Georgia, Terri and Jerry. From their four children they had 16 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and 8 great-great grandchildren. Recalling her own childhood, Betty wrote “Mother loved all her children and worked hard to keep us all together. I think the fact Mother had such a hard time herself when she was small made her have love and compassion for all she knew.” This sentiment could have just as easily been expressed by Betty’s own children and grandchildren, as she carried on the legacy of love and compassion to all whom she knew.
Her door was always open. For the frequent occurrences of family or friends stopping by unannounced, she was always prepared with baked goods at the ready. For her grandkids, knocking at the front door was no more necessary than to knock at the front door of their own home— as her home was also theirs. And seldom was there not a pot of coffee brewed and ready to be shared at the kitchen table with a story, a snack and perhaps a challenge to a game of Rummikub. Her love was shared not only by the way she tended to, and provided for her children, but also with the worries that she shouldered with them and the no-nonsense, direct wisdom she imparted.
Through her 56 years of marriage that she shared with her husband, she set an example and a standard for love that will endure many generations. Even years beyond his death, her adoration for Ed was evident in the way she spoke of him. In the sadness of her loss, one cannot help but to take comfort in knowing that she has been reunited with her husband whom she affectionately referred to as, “Daddy.”
Betty Jean Bybee-Friar spent nearly 93 years on earth, and was called home to heaven on October 23, 2022. She passed away at Cox Hospital in Springfield, Mo, and was preceded in death by: her husband, Edward Friar; her father, William Bybee; mother, Neoma Spicer; step-father, Glenn Spicer; brothers, James Bybee, Paul Bybee, Don Bybee, and Charles Spicer; grandson, Brent Detwiler; and sons-in-law, Terry McCallister, and Bob Baker.
She is survived by her children Glenda Baker; Georgia and John Detwiler; Terri and Larry Flint; and Jerry and Rhonda Friar; all of El Dorado Springs, as well as a multitude of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.