Betty Louise McAleenan

Betty Louise McAleenan

Jul 17, 1919 - Oct 1, 2021

Betty Lou McAleenan was born July 17, 1919 in Bishop Randall Hospital, Lander, Wyoming, to Ross Conklin and Betty Norman Hoopengarner. Ross was farming when the new baby arrived and the hospital needed a name for the birth certificate so Betty named her new baby Emma. When Betty and Emma came home to the home place at the future site of Diversion Dam, Ross frowned on the name, Emma, and in the absence of a consensus for a new name, they called the new baby Betty, adding Lou to distinguish mother and daughter. No one thought about changing the birth certificate which created interesting challenges to Betty Lou decades later…

Betty Lou graduated in 1936 from FCVHS and completed a course for a teaching certificate from Chadron State Normal School. She taught at country schools at Wind River and Morton, driving the rural school bus from the Medley Wurtz place near Maverick Springs to the oil camp at the swinging bridge. Medley used to leave his extra bum lambs at the bus stop and as Rosalie would get off, the bum lambs got on. Betty built up a good flock of sheep this way.

Betty fell in love with a local boy, Robert Griebel, and they married just before he left for ball gunner training and the Pacific in World War II. Robert did not return, listed MIA. Betty then joined the Women’s Army Air Corps and was assigned as a statistical typist in Accra, Ghana, a stop on the route across the “hump,” which supplied materiel to Burma. As the war wound down, the WAACs were transferred from Africa to Europe where Sergeant Betty met Sergeant Bill, a handsome Catholic boy from Cleveland, in London. They married in Paris and moved to Fort Washakie where Bill worked for Indian Services.

Betty operated her own beauty shops in Casper and Lander then went back to college with her daughter where she received her Bachelor of Science in Education at Chadron State College. Along with working at Southside Grade School, Hudson, and Head Start, Betty lobbied tirelessly for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s independence. Betty was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution Fremont Chapter and the American Legion.

Betty and Bill raised Merino sheep on the family farm in later years, Betty garnering county fair ribbons for her weaving. Bill died in 2012. They wanted to be buried together in the Veterans’ Cemetery at Mount Hope but Betty’s DNA dictated that that would be delayed ten years. Betty and Bill will be interred at 10:00 a.m. October 16 with a graveside service and color guard provided by the Don Stough Post #33. A reception will follow at 11:00 a.m. in the Wind River Room at The Inn in Lander.

They were preceded in death by Bill’s mother and father, Alma and William, and brother and sister Phillip and Gertrude; Betty’s mother and father, Betty and Ross, her brothers Edward and Robert Clare. Survivors include children Mary, Ross and Roger (Pat), two grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Also a niece Pat and her son Ben.

Well wishers are encouraged to send donations to the heroes at Westward Heights, 150 Caring Way, who have served and protected those residents in their care through thick and thin and rain and shine.