Betty Lou Honaker
- July 30, 2022
Betty Lou (Baker) Honaker passed away Thursday, July 28, 2022, at Brookdale Alliance. Born in Glendive, Montana, September 24, 1925, Betty Lou was the oldest daughter of Madison and Gladys (Pratt) Baker. Her sisters Ellajo Taber and Nancy Gorsuch preceded her in death.
After Betty Lou graduated from Dawson County High School in Glendive, she worked during World War II for Western Union in Los Angeles, California. Following that, Betty Lou came east to the (University of) Mount Union College where she met Linton Honaker. They married August 24, 1947. They resided on his family farm until 1958 when they moved to New Philadelphia, Ohio. Betty Lou and Linton celebrated 59 years of marriage before his death in 2006.
Betty Lou continued her education earning a master’s degree in Library Science from Kent State University. She worked at various Tuscarawas County schools, retiring in 1987 from Indian Valley Schools as the Librarian.
Betty Lou was one of the Friends of the Library of the Tuscarawas County Public Library original members and served for several years on the board and a year as President of the Friends. She was appointed to the State Library Board for five years with one year as vice-president and one as president. For several years, Betty Lou was a member of the Ohio Educational Media Association and was the North East Regional Director from 1984-1986. She is a past member of Delta Phi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, an educational honorary for women educators. A member of the Tuscarawas County Chapter of Ohio Retired Teachers Association, she served as President from 1990-1992 and was the Treasurer for nearly twenty years. She was a member of Tuscarawas County College Club and the Literature and Drama small group. Betty Lou previously helped with Lifeline at Union Hospital and volunteered at the Tuscarawas County Senior Center. She was also a member of Qui Vive and a 4-H advisor for many years. With Linton, she was active in the Farm Bureau.
Betty Lou founded the First Steps to Literacy: Books for Babies Trust Fund at the Tuscarawas County Public Library to ensure each child born in the county would receive a book. Linton and she started a scholarship for education students at Walsh College (now University).
In recent years, Betty Lou was very active with the Valley Quilt Guild and Piecemakers. She stitched quilts for veterans, victims of fire, quilts to donate to Hospice and to hospitals, quilts for babies, and, of course, for all members of her family. She knit baby hats for preemies through Tiny Hugs and Kisses. Betty Lou could be seen passing out books to children at the El Dia de Los Libros and Share-a-Christmas. She also volunteered with book sales and the set-up of the Hospice Sale in August and the Tuscarawas County Public Library Friends of the Library book sale in June. Another project dear to her heart was the Valentine Project which sent children with chronic or terminal illnesses a package on Valentine’s Day. Each child and any siblings received a pillowcase, and Betty Lou sewed hundreds. Every year, Betty Lou prepared 10 shoe boxes for the Christmas shoe box project placing in each, among other items, a doll’s quilt she had made.
Betty Lou received the 2016 Sally DeSeyn Volunteer of the Year Award from the Tuscarawas County Library. In the letter of recognition, the President of the Ohio Senate wrote, “Willingly giving of your time, energy, and abilities, you have striven to better the world around you, and through your generous contributions, you have earned the respect and esteem of all who know you.” Betty Lou’s service to her community was exemplary.
An avid reader herself, Betty Lou encouraged everyone she met to share reading with others. Whenever she met someone new, she would ask if he/she had children six or younger. If the answer was yes, she would tell them about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library which sends a book a month to every child until his/her sixth birthday.
Betty Lou enjoyed traveling. She and Linton visited all 50 states frequently going on Elderhostel (now Road Scholar) trips. They enjoyed learning the history, acquiring new skills, and meeting people everywhere they traveled. Betty Lou and Linton also did intergenerational trips taking grandson Dave or granddaughter Abby on trips to places that would be of interest to them. Betty Lou and Linton also visited five European countries. After Linton’s death, Betty Lou did an Ireland cruise to see the quilts of that country.
During her travels, she collected figurines with people or animals reading. With over 400 figurines, it was quite a collection. These she donated to the Tuscarawas County Public Library that they might be displayed and enjoyed by those visiting any of the county libraries.
Betty Lou is survived by her daughter, Emily Jean Honaker of Alliance, Ohio; daughter and son-in-law, Dr. Diana and Ron Priest, Alliance; sons and daughters-in-law, Richard and Sandra (Brown) Honaker of Fresno, Ohio; Robert Honaker and Monica Weekes of Sacramento, California. She is also survived by her grandchildren, David Priest of Austintown, Ohio; Abigail Honaker Schroeder (husband, Chris) of Alliance; Brennen Honaker of New York City; Matthew Honaker of Alliance; and Casey Honaker of Boston, Massachusetts. Betty Lou is survived by great grandchildren Rosalyn Byrne, Mason Priest, and Sara Schroeder. Betty Lou has one brother-in-law, George Bell of Salem, Ohio; and two nieces: Sara Taber of Champaign, Illinois, and Rachel Taber of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and one nephew, Dr. David Taber of Mishawaka, Indiana.
The family will greet guests on Saturday, August 6, 2022, from 9:30 – 10:30 AM in the Linn-Hert-Geib Funeral Home & Crematory at New Philadelphia where Pastor Bill Johnson will lead a celebration of Betty Lou’s life in the funeral home’s chapel at 10:30 AM. Burial alongside her husband will follow in the East Avenue Cemetery at New Philadelphia. Guests are invited to join the family for a meal and fellowship in the Geib Family Center following the services.
In leu of flowers, donations may be made in Betty Lou’s name to one the following: Tuscarawas County Public Library, Books for Babies Trust Fund, 121 Fair Avenue, NW, New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663; Ralph and Mary Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement, University of Mount Union, 1972 Clark Avenue, Alliance, Ohio 44601; The Dr. Linton R. and Betty Lou Honaker Endowed Scholarship Fund, Walsh University, 2020 East Maple Street, North Canton, Ohio 44720.