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Betty Rose Prosise

Beloved Wife, Mother, Teacher, Artist, and Writer

Betty R. Prosise passed away peacefully November 30, 2015 after over a decades-long valiant struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Betty was born and raised in Oakland and Napa, Calif. to Darlene and William Simmons.

As a young girl, she walked across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on the day it opened. As she was finishing high school, Betty met the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Prosise, on a blind date, and he courted her via the “Silverado Highway” in Napa until their marriage in 1952. They began their family with daughter Kathleen, and added two sons and two more daughters to the clan as the family moved throughout California and Utah in support of Bob’s business career.

After graduating from Napa High School in 1951, Betty attended Napa Junior College  then earned her AA degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed her BA degree in education at Weber State College, and in 1978 earned a master’s degree in library science from Portland State University. Throughout her life, Betty continued to take classes through Oregon State University, University of Oregon, and at Southern Oregon State College.

Betty was devoted to learning, intellectually curious, strong, independent, and a mother with a profound empathy for her children. Betty had a sweet tooth, a laugh and a smile matched only by the veracity of her sneezes, was an amazing cook, and was devoted simultaneously to her family and career. She instilled in her children a profound love of books and of nature.

In her early professional years, Betty taught high school English in Utah, then became an early pioneer in Library Media and computer literacy in her role as Media Specialist of McMinnville High and Klamath Union High schools, and as a librarian in the Central Point School District. Her leadership in the Oregon Educational Media Association allowed her to impact early school computer use and to fight against censorship, not only in Oregon but at a national level.

A strong intellect, creativity, and curiosity led Betty to pursue numerous projects and interests. Her early career goal was fashion design, and she sewed clothing and home decorations throughout her life. She and Bob considered themselves “Westerners,” enjoying each other, life, and family in the western United States. They were companionable fiction readers, and Betty developed a strong interest and talent in writing later in her life. Betty took art and photography classes and spent many years studying the Simmons Family genealogy and involvement in early northern California history, including the founding of the University of California, Berkeley. Betty and Bob planned and hosted many family reunions at the Oregon coast of which her children and grandchildren will always have fond memories.

She is survived by her children, Kathleen Zacharias, Harry Prosise (Cheryl), Pam Prosise-Caldwell (Jim), Bonnie Rhoton (Kevin), and Theodore “Ted“ Prosise (Rebecca); her grandchildren, Amanda, Bernadette, Brandi, Connor, Derek, Jake, Josie, Nick, Samantha, and Sierra; and numerous great-grandchildren, including two on the way.    She was preceded in death by her parents, Darlene and William Simmons; her brother, William Simmons; and her beloved husband, Robert.

A celebration of life will be held in Ashland in early summer. Memorial contributions may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research, or to a local chapter of the PEO Sisterhood, which supports education for women worldwide.