Bette Ruth Burgess Profile Photo

Bette Ruth Burgess

April 1, 1925 — July 1, 2023



Bette Ruth (Stapp) Burgess (1925-2023) passed peacefully on the afternoon of July 1, 2023 at Logan Health Palliative Care in Kalispell, visited by son John and daughter-in-law Becky.

She was 98 years young.

She was born in Mesa, Arizona April 1, 1925. Daughter of Oma Phelps and William Wayne Stapp. Her younger brother, Ronald Deryll Stapp born the following year died of cancer in 1992.

She loved to share about special memories of her years growing up in Mesa with many special family members, classmates and friends. Heartwarming stories of joy and love, even during those difficult years of depression and war.

She enjoyed singing, cheerleading and excelled in fast pitch softball while in Mesa Union High School and in fact went on to play amateur fast pitch years later in Van Nuys, California.

She married at age 17 to John (Jack) Larring Heck and gave birth to her first child, Shirley Hannah Heck, September 1943 followed by her second child John Allyn Heck, October 1944.

Her daughter Shirley had a long battle with Leukemia and died at home age 7. Bette and Jack at Shirley's bedside that day, Shirley sat up in bed and said she needed to go home, they, assured her she was home, Shirley then held both arms up and said "no, two men have come to take me home" then took her last breath.

Now, finally Bette is reunited with her precious little girl.

The trauma with the loss of their little girl, Bette and Jack drifted apart and divorced in 1952.

She went on to business school and married Leighton E. Burgess "Burg" in Fresno, California. Burgess bringing his three sons, Leighton Jr., David and Chris into the relationship.

She loved to play softball thru the years, and was invited to play for the Fresno Rockets in 1954 (Rockets won the ASA National Championships in 1953, 1954, and 1957) but with four young boys in the house to care for, she turned them down.

Bette and "Burg" divorced in 1967. She had better luck with her cats than husbands.

All the boys grown and headed down individual roads: Leighton Jr. enlisted United States Navy; David professional truck driver, Chris died of diabetes. Son John enlisted United States Coast Guard and then 30 years with the Fresno City Fire Dept.

She pursued her second passion, dancing. She was accomplished in Ballroom, Latin and Modern styles and loved to compete.

She moved from Fresno to Modest in 2004 to be near her granddaughter, and then relocated to live with son John and daughter-in-law Becky in Bigfork, Montana in 2019.

She devoted her life to family. Every choice Bette made she considered first how it would might affect family or friends.

She was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having answered many callings and responsibilities thru her lifetime. The lives she touched were numerous and her legacy is eternal.

She is survived by her son, John Allyn (Heck) Burgess; daughter-in-law, Becky. Grandsons, Nicholas John Burgess and Derek Allyn Burgess. Granddaughters, Tammy Lynn (Burgess) Barindelli and Genevieve Leitricia (Burgess) Ayure. Six great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren.

Gravesite will be in Clovis Cemetery, Clovis California next to her brother, date not set. Bette's celebration of life will be held in Bigfork, date not set.

She asked any donations be sent to either Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital, or LDS "fast offering".

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Bette Ruth Burgess, please visit our flower store.


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