Betty Jo (Short) Burnham
May 3, 1927 - November 13, 2021
On November 13, World Kindness Day, a bright sparkler of wit, beauty and loving kindness, spluttered and went out, leaving us with glowing memories that will not dim.
Betty was born May 3, 1927 to Perry Howard Short, Jr. and Dorothy Melton Short in Brownsville, Texas. Her brother, Perry H. Short III (Buddy) joined the family two years later. Betty attended MacGregor and Wharton Elementary schools, Sidney Lanier Junior High, and San Jacinto Senior High in Houston, Texas. She was elected Queen of the May, high school and college Class Beauty, was Drill Major of the Golden Gauchos Drill Team, elected "Most Representative," and in the National Honor Society. She attended Rice University joining the Owen Wister Literary Society. She transferred to the University of Colorado, where she was the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi and pledged the Delta, Delta, Delta (Tri Delta) Sorority.
One of the "Greatest Generation," she survived crossing the country in a Model A during the depression as her father sought work in California, lost her father in the Merchant Marines early in WWII when his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Caribbean, and exemplified duty, honesty and patriotism all her life. Between school sessions during WWII, she worked at Hughes Tool Company and a war plant.
She met the love of her life, W.D. (Buck) Burnham at Daily Vacation Bible School at South Main Baptist Church in Houston the year she was 14 and he was 16. They dated during high school; then their paths diverged when Buck entered the US Army Air Corps and Betty continued her education. They reconnected when Buck was home on Christmas leave in 1945. They married in July 1946 and Betty began her well-traveled life as an Air Force wife. During military life, she served as President of the Officer Wives Club, Brownie and Girl Scout leader, Gray Lady volunteer, and classroom mother. She raised two daughters, a poodle, and a husband.
Buck and Betty retired to Bryan, Texas in 1970 where they joined First Baptist Church Bryan and the Briarcrest Country Club. She was active in the Officer's Wives Club and "Worm Burners" golf group. Betty's deep and rich spiritual life was a source of strength and comfort. She treasured the inspiration, learning, Bible study, and friendships made at First Baptist Bryan.
Betty claimed she wasn't athletic, but she learned to bowl, play golf, water and snow ski. She won prizes and trophies, including the President's Cup at Briarcrest Country Club. Bridge, Bible study and voracious reading stimulated her prodigious intellect. She enjoyed cooking, throwing parties, sewing, gardening, flower arranging, and crafts. She loved Frank Sinatra, Perez Prado, big bands, ball room dancing, and travel. She was a legendary letter writer, keeping up with friends all over the world, and many a thank you or condolence note is still treasured by the recipients.
Her death leaves an unfillable void, but her life of loving kindness, joy and beauty will be a treasured legacy.
She is survived by her daughters, Becky Jo Burnham of Bryan, Texas, Sally Burnham Moore and son-in-law, Bob Moore of Redding, California, two grandsons, Ellis and Evan, and two great-grandchildren along with beloved cousins, nieces and nephews.
Her ashes will be interred along with Buck's at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery on December 13, 2021. We know that Mother would want to only spread love as her legacy; therefore, a virtual service will be broadcast on December 11, 2021 at 10 am. Please drop by the Hillier's legacy page to share a favorite Betty story.
Betty supported many charities; as an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be to your favorite one.
Betty S. Burnham's Celebration of Life:
On a computer, smart phone, or tablet, click on the following link:
To watch on your TV, navigate to the YouTube Channel. Search for bettysburnham. Then choose the video featuring her picture.