Betty G. Spencer was born July 12, 1925, the second daughter and third child of Charles Joseph and LaRue Spratley Gaisford, in American Fork, Utah. She was educated in local schools graduating from American Fork High School in 1943. She attended Utah Technical College and was employed in the Engineering Department during the construction of Geneva Steel.
She later attended Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University and University of Utah. She had a strong work ethic that began as a young girl. She worked many years as a journalist and photographer of the Dailey Herald and had her own column in the American Fork Citizen for 12 years. She was recruited as an Information and Training officer at Utah State Developmental Center and later became the Director of Information Services. She was the producer of a documentary for the center that was shown at the New York Film Festival as well as the American Film Festival in Chicago. She won countless awards for her writing. She was named the “Women of the Year” by the Utah Presswomen and honored in Dearborn, Michigan.
In 1972, she was recruited by American Fork Mayor, Neal Savage, to explore and serve on the American Fork Cultural Arts Committee. She organized a visit for this group to attend the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters. The first effort of the committee was to see If this famed production could be re-produced in American Fork. It, and it was. The first show in 1973 consisted of four performances. The response was overwhelming and over the next 20 years the Utah Pageant of the Arts grew from four performances a year to 34; drawing over 28,000 people to American Fork High School annually. As the production grew a professional art exhibit was added, along with a scholarship Youth Art Exhibit, Pre-show entertainment, and a craft show and sale.
Betty wrote the script for the Pageant for 20 years as well as handled all the publicity, news releases, billboards, radio and TV ads, mailers, posters and magazines. She also recruited her grandchildren to participate in the Pageant.
Betty achieved success as a journalist, photographer, columnist, editor, author, historian, publicist and a poet. She was one of Utah’s most widely published and honored writers. However, she claimed her greatest success was raising four productive and caring children; Larry, Brent, Alan, and Marsha.
Betty enjoyed being a wife and a mother. She married Lawrence W. Hansen in the Salt Lake temple on June 7, 1943. They were later divorced. She married Ralph H. Spencer on December 9, 1949 at her parent’s home in American Fork. They were sealed in the Salt Lake temple June 15, 1955.
She was a “joiner” when her oldest son Larry began first grade at Harrington Elementary school. There she began her long service in PTA. She also served in numerous community groups including the Miss American Fork Committee. She was president of the League of Utah Writers for two years. She also served as president for the Provo Chapter of the League and on the state board for several years. She was the President of the Utah Affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women for two years and was on their National Board for 18 years, traveling throughout the country to annual conventions and the National Fall Board Meetings. She also traveled with this group to places like Russia, England, Germany, Austria, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
She loved to travel and often would include family members on her adventures around the globe. She felt traveling was an opportunity to learn and develop appreciation for other cultures and traditions while enhancing personal relationships.
Betty loved learning and teaching. She began teaching classes to the 12-year-old-young women at her church when she was 19. She taught these classes for many years. She also served on the Alpine Stake Young Women’s Board and served twice as an officer on the American Fork Stake Primary Board. She served five years as an ordinance worker in the Provo temple.
She was a caring person. After the death of her father, she invited her mother to share Sunday dinner and to join in other family activities for more than 16 years.
At the age of 90 she moved to Conway, Arkansas, to live with her son and daughter-in-law. Alan and Leesa cared for her tenderly. Four years later, they moved to Clarkston, Utah, to be closer to family.
Betty made friends easily and had an uncanny ability to remember the smallest details about everyone she knew. She cared deeply for those who served her and greatly appreciated those who supported her with meal deliveries, cleaning, shopping, nursing care, and those her came to help her read and research various projects in her later years.
Betty is survived by her children Larry J. (Karen) Hansen, Brent G. (Dixie) Spencer, Leesa Spencer and Marsha (Jeff) Colegrove; 17 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, and 8 great-great grandchildren.
Betty is preceded in death by her husband, Ralph H. Spencer; her parents; her son Alan C. Spencer; siblings James Gaisford, Ruth Rothe Wightman and Laura Ritcha.
Services for Betty G. Spencer will be held on Friday, April 8th at 1:00 PM at the American Fork 1st Ward, 381 South 300 East. A viewing will be held prior to the service from 10:45 – 12:45. Internment in the American Fork Cemetery.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank Rocky Mountain Hospice for their dedication and care, especially Shauna Glance, RN.
Please share a memory on Betty’s Tribute Wall at www.AndersonMortuary.com
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