Betty Jane Taylor


b. November 6, 1931 - Rouleaux, SK
m. August 28, 1950 - Vermillion, Clay, SD
d. July 6, 1990 - Buffalo, Wright, MN
Buried: Riverside Cemetery - Pierre, Hughes, SD

Betty was born November 6, 1931 in Rouleaux, Saskatchewan, Canada, youngest of six children born to Mabel Copeland Taylor, and Richard Taylor. Betty's parents were American citizens, whose earlier families had homesteaded Saskatchewan prairie and "broke" it into wheat land. She attended public schools and graduated from Connaught school in Regina. She attended Iowa State University with a major in Home Economics. Betty and Stanley Held were married August 28, 1950 in Vermillion, South Dakota, and they had two daughters, Barbara and Debra. Betty enjoyed music. She was an accomplished pianist, and was grooming herself with pipe organ lessons in Ames, her goal being to play the organ at Collegiate Methodist Church. That goal was interrupted when she contracted severe paralytic poliomyelitis in the summer of 1955. The effects of that disease changed the direction of her life and the lives of her family.

Betty's return to physical independence was an amazing accomplishment, with assistance from Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, and Kenny Institute and Courage Center both located in Minneapolis, MN. She adapted to living with residual complete paralysis of her right arm, major paralysis of her left arm, with accompanying weakness in her trunk and legs, and severe compromise of her breathing ability. Through her efforts and with the help and support of family and friends, she regained the ability to walk with confidence and to accomplish a great deal of her own personal care. Betty utilized program and technical support available at Courage Center and accomplished the feat that was to enable her to do the many things she had missed for so long-she learned to drive again, only this time in a specially modified car, primarily using foot controls. The 60 mile round trip commute to Courage Center became routine for her as she served several years as a volunteer in the children's music therapy groups and assisting as a rehabilitation role model for many of the Center's clients. She served on the Courage Center board and as a volunteer hostess, conducting guided tours often for worldwide celebrities such as Marie and Donnie Osmund, and Jehad Sadat, widow of Anwar Sadat of Egypt. She was in demand as a motivational speaker to the handicapped, and exhorted them that there is no such thing as "can't", and talked about being "different-abled" rather than disabled.

Betty contributed to the family veterinary practice for years and eventually completed her Associate of Arts degree. She became a neighborhood icon while walking around the block with Barney and later Minnie, her beloved dogs. She loved to express herself through writing and oil and water color painting. Many of her paintings still add color and life to the homes of her family, friends, and to public buildings in the Twin City area. One of her oils can be found hanging in the veterinary library at Iowa State University. Her love for the prairies of Saskatchewan often surfaced in her oil paintings. She often returned to the Saskatchewan prairie where she was born and raised, gathering the material and the mental pictures of her artistic subjects. Betty was active in the Buffalo Presbyterian Church where she taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, was a deacon and elder, and was a delegate to Presbyterian General Assembly. In the 1980's, she was employed by the Community Education Department of the Buffalo Public Schools, and created a new program for Wright County Handicapped people which she named "Opening Doors". That name was born out of years of frustration in opening doors of all kinds. Her program was designed to help people remove the barriers to their full appreciation of life. Her ability to travel independently enabled her to visit and enjoy her Oregon grandchildren, and to visit her daughter Barbara's home in Spain.

Betty died on July 6, 1990, and is buried near her parents in Riverside Cemetery in Pierre, South Dakota, on a bluff overlooking the South Dakota Prairies.

(submitted by Stan Held and daughter, Deb Fant)



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