Bette Reed

Bette Reed (Gray) passed away peacefully June 3, 2011.

Born in Winside, Nebraska in 1922, Bette spent her early years on her father’s farm until the early 1930s, when the family moved to Selah, Washington during the Dust Bowl years.

She was named Dairy Queen in high school and was the first college graduate in her family, having worked her way through college at Central Washington University, Seattle University, and Western Washington University.While on campus at Seattle University, a young pre-med student asked the dean of women to introduce him to Bette. She married Chuck in 1943, joining him in Louisville, Kentucky, where he graduated from medical school the following year.

When the military transferred him to Italy at the end of World War II, Bette returned to her parents’ home on a dairy farm near Acme, Washington, where she earned her B.A. in Education from Western Washington University in 1948 and taught at Acme School. She continued teaching as she and Chuck were transferred to military bases in Denver, Georgia, North Carolina, Honolulu, Washington, D.C., and Japan.

As a reading specialist, she taught many young children to read. Upon retirement, they resided in Clyde Hill (Bellevue) Washington and on San Juan Island, where Dr. Reed’s family had lived from 1908 to 1918.

On the island, Bette painstakingly edited and typed onto carbon paper her sister-in-law Caroline Reed’s memoir of growing up in Friday Harbor and Bellingham. Proceeds from her publication of “Underpinning” benefit the San Juan Historical Museum and copies are held at both the State of Washington Historical Library and the Bellingham Historical Library.

Bette also wrote and published for limited distribution, a memoir of growing up in Nebraska and the journey to Washington called “Sunflowers and Cockleburs”.

Living near sister-and-brother-in laws Virginia and Oliver Sandwith on their beloved San Juan Island from the mid 1970s, Bette and Chuck were avid golfers, aerobic walkers, and readers, were charter members of the Interisland Medical Clinic, and participated in many Audubon annual bird counts. She is a past member of the Audubon Society, San Juan Golf Club, Bellevue Golf Course, the San Juan Historical Museum, Cape San Juan Board, Book Group, and the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue.

Following a stroke, Bette was skillfully and lovingly cared for at the Canyon Park Adult Living Centers, Bothell, Washington.

She is survived by her sister Shirley Webster, daughter Susan, son Charles, grandchildren Lysa, Willis, and Heather, daughter in law Page, and thirteen nieces and nephews.

After graveside services, Bette will be buried next to her beloved husband at Greenacres Cemetery, Ferndale, Washington.

Online remembrances of Bette Reed may be registered via the link:

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the San Juan Historical Museum, P.O. Box 441, Friday Harbor WA, 98250.

— Family of Bette Reed