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Betty Lou Pinnock

Betty Lou Pinnock

Betty Lou Pinnock, a longtime southern Oregon resident whose sharp wit, deep intellect, religious conviction, and huge heart defined her life, died peacefully at her Medford home July 14, 2015. She was 82.

As was her trademark, she kept family, friends, caregivers, and nurses on their toes to the end. She unleashed sarcastic, well-placed barbs through even her toughest hours -- particularly in the last four years, when she rebounded from serious illness multiple times only to return home from the hospital and remind her son, “I ain’t dead yet.”

She was born Betty Lou Emery July 29, 1932, in Denver, Colo., to William F. Emery and Elizabeth Mizer Emery. She graduated from East High School in Denver and went on to earn degrees in English and speech from the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating in 1953.

A resident of Ashland from 1953 to 2004, Pinnock led an active life until her retirement.

She was employed by the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in the 1950s in several roles: on the publicity staff, as a director’s assistant, on the production team, and on the stage as a musician. She appeared as a musician in the 1953 production of

The Merchant of Venice, held the Festival Publicity Scholarship for the 1956 season and was responsible for sound in the Festival’s 1956 production of

Love’s Labour’s Lost.

In 1959 she and her husband, Frank Pinnock, bought a home on Herbert Street in Ashland, where she would live for 45 years. 

Following a divorce, she worked as a copywriter for a local radio station before earning her Master’s degree in secondary education from Southern Oregon College in 1965. While raising three children, she taught English at Phoenix High School from 1964 to 1967 and at Scenic Junior High from 1967 to 1968. She later worked as a juvenile parole officer for the State of Oregon until 1991, when she retired.

As a nod to her hard edge, the vanity license plate on her car read simply “WWS”, for Wicked Witch of the South.

Following the death at 16 of her youngest child, Andrew, she became an active member of The Bereaved Parents, which formed in Ashland in 1979 and later became affiliated with The Compassionate Friends.

In her later years she was most notably a devoted member of the local Episcopal Church community. She became an ordained Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon in 2000, serving at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Medford. She continued to serve the church and its members into her late 70s, while also assisting with religious activities at her then-retirement community, Anna Maria Creekside in Medford.

She cherished time with her grandchildren, enjoyed photography, and looked forward to traveling on church-related excursions including conventions, trips to England, Scotland, and The Vatican, and annual retreats to the Benedictine Monastery at Mt. Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, Ore. She was an ardent supporter of her children’s pursuits, particularly her daughter’s love for music and her two sons’ passion for baseball and other sports.

She is survived by two children, Beckie Pinnock, of Talent, and Geoff Pinnock (and wife Gina), of Spokane, Wash.; and five grandchildren: Katy, Allie, and Grace Pinnock, of Spokane, Josef Pinnock Ward, of Eugene, and Angela Voris, of Albany. She was preceded in death by her son, Andrew; a grandson, Nicholas Voris; a brother, William Emery; and her beloved cats, Francis and Maggie.

Far-flung loved ones and friends will celebrate her life in a memorial service at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland on Saturday, August 14, at 2 p.m. A reception will follow in the parish hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the music program at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church or the Medford chapter of The Compassionate Friends.

Betty Lou Pinnock