Bettie Jean Collins
Bettie Jean Collins died on September 5 at 81, but her remarkable penchant for details and charming ability to out-argue anyone will not be forgotten.
Born on September 27, 1941, Bettie Jean was the only child of Loranzo and Imogene McJunkin, who raised her in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
Bettie was an OG feminist. She was one of six women in her class who graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Bettie became the first female Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah. She later oversaw the Child Support Enforcement Division for multiple counties as an Assistant District Attorney in Oklahoma. After retiring from the DA’s office, she developed a child support division for the Kaw Tribe.
She was a free-range parent who instilled a sense of independence in her children. She taught them to ride bikes to the grocery store, stay away from creepy people at the park, and return home by dark. She often dropped them off at the Snowbasin ski bus with ten bucks in their pocket and some Dramamine.
Bettie was an exceptional pianist who loved music almost as much as boxed wine. She often hosted dinner parties where she could bring these two passions together. She’d play songs from John Denver, Jim Croce and Elton John while belting out the lyrics with friends who gathered around the piano.
Bettie was a terrible boat driver. She once ran over her husband in the middle of the lake. She generally eschewed rules of the road for any motorized vehicles. She hauled her kids and their friends around in the “way back” of a station wagon while smoking Virginia Slims with the windows rolled up tight.
She was remarkably persuasive, even as her memory faded. Bettie convinced two childhood friends to sneak her out of the house for a Thelma-and-Louise-style joyride across state lines. After triangulating her location with cell phone pings, Utah Highway Patrol apprehended Bettie in a Denny’s parking lot, where she successfully argued with the officer to let her continue on to Idaho. Fortunately, she returned home a few days later.
Bettie is survived by her kids, Brad and Stacey; her daughter-in-law, Jessie; three grandchildren, Amberlee, Boston, and Saige; four great-grandchildren, Oaklee, Brighton, Rylee and Steele; her second husband, Mike Collins and their Chihuahua, Lily.
In lieu of sending flowers, the family suggests donating in Bettie’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association.