Bells were ringing, whistles blowing, and people cheering all over the country on the day Betty was born. It was November 11, 1918, Armistice Day, the end of World War I, the war to make the world safe for democracy. To celebrate the end of war, her parents gave her the middle name Victoria. Born Elizabeth Victoria Nafziger, she soon became known as Betty.
A younger sister, Patty, was born in July of 1925, Betty took delight in teasing her that the whole country celebrated her own birthday each year, but only family celebrated Patty’s birth. Betty later expressed regret for her behavior.
Living to be 100 years old, she saw many changes in the country. She spoke of remembering ice boxes before refrigerators became available. Every few days the iceman with his horse-drawn wagon would bring large blocks of ice to the home. She remembered telephone calls that required a human operator to be completed and washing machines that had to be hand-cranked to activate rollers to remove water from the clothes. She also remembered rationing stamps during World War II.
She attended schools in Goshen, Indiana, Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California. Always a good student, she loved learning and decided to become a teacher but had to wait a few years before attending college to obtain her teaching credential.
She lived through the Great Depression and spoke with heart break about the damage done to her family as her father lost his job and money became increasingly limited. She blamed the depression for the family’s destruction and her parents’ divorce.
In the fall of 1936 she met and fell in love with Raymond Curtiss Hickman. In June of 1938, they eloped. The young people from their church gave them gifts of canned goods — lots of canned goods with all the labels removed. Betty said she never knew what they were having for dinner until the can was opened.
Children followed: Jerry in June, 1941, Don in July, 1943, and Roberta in October, 1946. Kyle followed in September, 1960. By the time Kyle was born, Betty had attended Pepperdine University, earned her teaching credential and spent a few years teaching 5th grade. She later received additional training and became a reading specialist.
In 1979, Ray retired from MacDonald Douglas. He and Betty moved to Santa Maria, California, where they enjoyed life. Ray died on April 12, 1999. Betty continued to live there until 2017 when, at the age of 98, she moved to Bellingham, Washington, in order to be closer to her son Jerry and his wife Margie. She loved living in Bellingham at Solstice Senior Living and wished she had made the move sooner. An enthusiastic member of P.E.O., she moved her membership to Chapter F in Bellingham and enjoyed the company of the women she met there. A reading teacher, she loved the written word, and enjoyed writing poetry which was often witty and funny. She celebrated her 100th birthday with many of her relatives. She said she had only one regret — that she didn’t live long enough to see a woman become president of the United States.
After a full and interesting life, she passed away peacefully at Hospice House on August 26, 2019. She was predeceased by her husband Ray, her son Don, and her sister Patty. She is survived by 3 children, 11 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren.