Bette Jean Harris, 83, of Alton, passed away early Friday morning, Jan. 22, 2016, at her home.
Born Jan. 16, 1933, in Judsonia, Ark., she was the daughter of Thomas G. Bailey Sr. and Lena (Jackson) Bailey. Bette worked for Tri County Beauty Academy in Litchfield with her mother and later as a cosmetology instructor for the J.B. Johnson Vocational School in Alton. She then went back to school and completed her bachelor’s degree in 1984 and became an English teacher at West Middle School, where she taught for 10 years. She loved the change and the challenge. Bette was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Illinois Hairdresser Association, Illinois Retired Teacher’s Association, Alton Community Service League, and P.E.O. Chapter JZ. On Oct. 10, 1953, she married Wiley L. Harris Jr. in Alton. He preceded her in death on June 17, 1990, after 14 years of home dialysis.
Surviving is a daughter, Barbara Ann Bowen (Andy) of Godfrey; a son, Thomas Wiley Harris (Judy Jones) of Alton; a brother-in-law, Joseph Eugene Harris of Godfrey; her loving caregiver, Viola Link, along with Tonya and Candace.
Along with her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Bailey Jr. Bette’s optimism and enthusiastic outlook, her encouragement and caring for others, her creativity, always making the most of what she had her whole life, these traits and many more always made her an inspiration to all those who knew her. “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and exclaiming WOOHOO What A Ride!”
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a P.E.O. Memorial service at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, at Gent Funeral Home in Alton. Visitation will continue from 10 a.m. until time of funeral service at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Father David Boase will officiate. Burial will be at Valhalla Memorial Park in Godfrey. Memorials may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church or Heartland Hospice of Fairview Heights. Online guestbook and information may be found at www.gentfuneralhome.com.