Never again will Flora Bethe’s family and friends be greeted with a smile and as big a hug as her small but strong frame could manage. Flora Essie Bethe (nee Smith) passed away overnight on December 31, 2017 in Lakewood, Colorado. She was born in Vilas, Colorado on October 17, 1932 to Blanche and Herman Smith. During the “dust bowl days”, when she was five years old, Flora, her sisters Frances, Novetta and Grace, grandmother, mother and father packed everything they owned into a car and moved to the Bowen district near Monte Vista. The family built the farm that began with one chicken house into a thriving farm with farmhouse, a barn, a shop and several other improvements. Growing up, Flora loved to ski the Sand Dunes on barrel staves, picnic at Beaver Creek and ride cows on the family farm. She fondly remembered her first store bought dress purchased when she was in high school.
Flora is preceded in death by her husband of over 50 years, Ernest (Corky) Bethe, Jr., a sailor, whom she met when he came to visit his parents in Monte Vista. They had planned to elope but while discussing that over the phone with a sister, Flora’s mother picked up a phone on the same “party line” and heard the plan. Instead, Flora and Corky married two years later in the Bowen Church on June 15, 1954, her parent’s and sister’s wedding anniversary. She and Corky lived in Texas, California and Oregon during his naval career, before returning to Monte Vista in 1967 to raise their family where her daughter, Rhonda Moore, and sons, Ernest and Kelly, went to the same schools as she attended. A fourth child, Mickey Lynn, died at three months from SIDS while Corky was at sea during the Korean Conflict.
After Corky’s passing in 2007, Flora moved briefly to The Legacy in Monte Vista, then to the Granville Assisted Living Center in Lakewood, Colorado to be closer to her daughter, Rhonda and her son, Kelly and their families. This also allowed for more regular visits from her eldest son, Ernest Bethe III, who was living in Indonesia with his wife Ginger and their two boys.
Flora loved all of her family, and was especially proud of her grandchildren and great grandchildren; Rhonda’s son Brad, who, with wife Tamara, has three children, Justus, Kaidence and Emmett, and Rhonda’s two other sons Michael and Daniel, Ernest’s boys Ernest IV (EB) and John and Kelly’s daughters Molly and Kacey. Surrounded by many wonderful friends and the fantastic staff of the Legacy and Granville Assisted Living Center, Flora enjoyed working puzzles, playing cards, doing crafts and winning at bingo. Flora will be greatly missed by all of those who were blessed to know her.
Flora’s remains will be cremated, at her request. A memorial service will be held on January 13 at the Granville Assisted Living Center in Lakewood; her ashes will be spread in the summer near Lake City. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to the Friends of the Colorado Talking Book Library (www.friendsofctbl.org) or Hospice del Valle in Alamosa, Colorado (www.hospicedelvalle.org).