Betty Lou (Illian) Hancock, 94, dedicated mother and grandmother, passed away peacefully on Dec. 28, 2018, surrounded by her family. Betty is survived by one sister, Joellen Taylor; one brother, Richard Illian; her four children; her granddaughter, Rebecca; her grandson, Karl; and great-grandson, Maxwell.
Betty was born in Midland, South Dakota, where she enjoyed farm life; taking care of calves and chickens as well as learning about the mechanics of tractors from her father. As a young woman she was responsible for daily bread baking, much to the later delight of her kids. Her horse, Calley, was her best buddy.
She graduated from Midland High School in 1942. Mom remembered her years in Midland fondly and told us many wonderful stories about her time on the Madsen Ranch with her Aunt Pearl, Uncle Harvey and her cousin Jani as well as her many other relatives in the area.
She and her husband, Donald L. Hancock, had four children; Bruce, Wanda, Pearl and Lauri. The family moved from South Dakota to Colstrip in 1965. Betty became well known in the Colstrip community as the friendly face at the window of the post office, where she worked until her retirement at age 67. Then she went bowling.
Bowling took her to Tucson, Arizona; Reno, Nevada; and all over the state of Montana for tournaments. She bowled into her 80s and only stopped when the bowling alley in Colstrip closed. She stayed active by walking to the store, senior center and post office, often turning down offers of rides from kind drivers because she wanted the exercise.
The Colstrip community was supportive and caring of her while she maintained her independence for as long as she could. Watchful neighbors saved her life when she fell inside her house, and it became clear, even to this fiercely independent woman, that she could no longer stay alone in her beloved home. She then moved to Arizona where she was cared for by her daughter, Pearl, for nearly 8 years. During that time she was a beloved favorite of all her home care specialists; especially her main caregivers, Mary Jo and Dolores.
Betty Lou’s cheerful nature never diminished. We will always cherish her smiles and the love she gave every day. We will miss her in her passing and celebrate her life with joy.
Services are planned for later this year in Midland, South Dakota.