Betty Summers 1948
Betty at Oak Tree Villa
A resident of La Selva Beach for fifty years, passed away quietly in the predawn hours of May 19. Her family had been at her bedside since a stroke felled her one week earlier. She was 92 years old.
Betty was born on December 24, 1920 in Fresno, Ca, to Lola and Shirley Summers, their third and final child. Father Shirley, who worked for Shell Oil, soon moved the family to the East Bay town of Byron, where Betty would grow up and eventually graduate from high school in Brentwood in 1938.
Returning to Fresno to study at the State University, she was in the first class of women there to be trained in aeronautics drafting and design. During World War II she was employed by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in San Diego, becoming a valued member of the Engineering Department in making layouts. At the conclusion of the war, Betty found employment in the Radiation Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. She worked and socialized with two future Nobel Prize winning scientists, Glenn Seaborg and Luis Alvarez.
Betty had always been good at sports, particularly softball, bowling and golf. While visiting her parents (recently retired to Watsonville), she was out at the Pajaro Valley Golf Club when her threesome welcomed a single player (a very single Les Rhodes of Aptos) to join them.
Les and Betty were married on June 24, 1951. Continuing on with their golf, they would at times be members of Pajaro Valley, Pasatiempo, and Aptos Seascape. A medalist in many tournaments, Betty won the Watsonville City Championship in 1953.
In 1954 the Rhodeses started their family, and when their third child was born in 1960 they moved to La Selva Beach. Betty was an elementary school room mother and Cub Scout den mother, taught a cooking class for 4-H and Sunday School at La Selva Beach Community Church. She served as Deacon at the Church, was a member of the Women’s Guild, and for many years worked at the polls on election day.
When her children were older she went back to the salt mines, working in Administrations and Records at Cabrillo College for seventeen years. Though no longer golfing much, she kept up her other great hobby of playing bridge. She was also an avid reader. As a teenager, she had read Gone With the Wind in one day when kept home from school (appropriately enough) because of Scarlet Fever. In later years she mostly read mysteries, and would frequently solve a TV whodunnit before the last commercial break.
She had given up her career for marriage and family, and that level of sacrifice was her constant nature. She never put a demand of her own before anyone else’s desires. Her simple sweetness, her big brown eyes radiating warmth, and her genuine smile made her many quick and lasting friendships.
When Les suffered a stroke in 2000, Betty took care of him for his final three years. Two years later, when her older brother fell and could no longer live on his own, she took him in and looked after him. Finally, in 2010, suffering from heart arrhythmia and arthritic knees, Betty moved to Oak Tree Villa in Scotts Valley where she made new friends, many fortunately employed there as skilled caretakers.
Her husband Les passed away in 2003 and her brother Jack Summers succumbed in 2010. Her oldest brother, Shirley F. Summers, was killed in WWII. She is survived by daughter Barbara Rhodes of San Jose, son Ron Rhodes, daughter-in-law Elaine McGregor and grandchildren Kevin Rhodes and Lauren Rhodes of Sunnyvale, and son Jim Rhodes of Santa Cruz.
A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 at La Selva Beach Community Church.