Monday, April 26, 2010

Eulogy for Mom

Eulogy for Betty Hale Newton, written and read by her daughter Holly.

One of Betty's daughters read this yesterday, April 25th, 2010, at the memorial at Summer's Past Farms.
"Mother, the Gardener at Large

Did you know my Mother was a super hero? Yep, she went by the super hero name of The Gardener at Large.

Her powers were:
· To teach about climate zones and slow release fertilizer
· To identify plant disease at a simple glance
· To write a fact filled plant article in time to prepare a four course dinner
· To leave a little jewel of knowledge with every individual she came in contact with
· To make Southern California aware of drought resistant landscaping and drip irrigation

The Gardener at Large would start her day armed with her daily list, put on her lipstick and purse and her trademark wide brimmed hat and take off down the hill from her intelligence center (designed to look like a domestic family dwelling) and whisk away to spread the word on plants.

Armed with her tattered Sunset Western Garden book, no aphid or dandelion was ever safe when The Gardener at Large was at hand. Often speaking in Latin or Greek, she quickly switched to the common man’s tongue to communicate with the uneducated plant enthusiasts.

Always handling every challenge with grace, enthusiasm and determination, my super hero, The Gardener at Large, satisfied many a person’s gardening dilemma.

At the end of the day, this super hero rolled up her driveway, washed the dirt off her hands, traded her dirt stained pants for something clean and an apron, touched up her lipstick, and prepared cold lemonade and a hot dinner for her family.

A garden whirlwind by day, a mild mannered, supportive wife and mother by night, there was so much more to Mother than her green thumb and desire to share her knowledge.

I have two questions for all of you. How many of you were students of Betty’s? How may of you have or had a plant that mother gave you?

Well then, The Gardener at Large, my Mother, Betty Newton, lives on."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Betty Hale Newton—Mom, Grandmother, Gardener, Teacher, Writer

Betty Hale Newton was born in 1934 and died in San Diego on March 5, 2010. This blog is to honor her.

Memorial Information:
The memorial will be outdoors at Summers Past Farms in Flinn Springs.
It begins at 2:00 p.m. Park in the back.
15602 Olde Hwy 80
Flinn Springs, CA 92021
(619) 390-1523

Her San Diego Union obit article:
Betty Newton: Gardening expert and author loved nature, was ‘a natural-born teacher’
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010 AT 12:05 A.M.

Betty Newton, a teacher, writer and gardener, did not limit her instruction to the classroom at Grossmont Foothills Adult School.

“She was a natural-born teacher,” said her daughter Holly. “Whether it was her seamstress, trying to teach her English ... she was always trying to help people.”

She also loved nature.

“Her last words were, ‘Enjoy the sun coming up on the mountains,’ ” daughter Laura said. Mrs. Newton died March 5 due to complications from scoliosis. She was 76.

Though her career path did not line up with her degree in political science, she read the newspaper every morning, discussed politics at most dinners with her husband, Gil, and was an active participant in the League of Women Voters.

She taught gardening and landscaping, and she was not bashful about sharing her knowledge.

“She was a teacher always, so if she wanted to tell you there was too much ginger in your fruitcake, she would,” Laura said. Occasionally, Mrs. Newton’s passions overlapped.

“If there was a tree in front of a government building, and it was the wrong kind of tree for the area, she would call somebody or write them,” Laura said.

She taught her daughters with encouragement rather than instruction.

“She was always more about teaching us and letting us explore than being dictatorial,” Laura said. “She let me dig up part of the lawn to make a canal system. ... She didn’t mind.

“She was an incredible mom.”

Mrs. Newton wrote about gardening in San Diego for years, contributing a monthly column called Gardener at Large to The San Diego Union and writing “Gardening Beautifully in Southern California,” a handbook.

“As I’ve become more involved with the gardening community, almost everyone around here has taken a class by her or read something by her,” said Mary James, who was Mrs. Newton’s editor at the Union. “She helped me understand things that can come only from years of experience.”

Mrs. Newton was born Betty Louise Hale on Feb. 26, 1934, in San Diego.

She met her future husband in elementary school, and the pair graduated from Grossmont High in 1951. Soon after, she began her college career at San Diego State and Pomona College, but her education was put on hold in 1955, when she married Gil.

“She was a very attractive blonde,” he said. “She always had a beautiful smile because she liked people.”

After a honeymoon to Tucson, the couple drove up the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where Gil was serving in the Army Ordnance Corps.

It wasn’t long before the Newtons returned to Southern California and finished their degrees at the University of California Los Angeles in 1958, again graduating in the same class. They nearly attended law school together after both passed the entrance exam, but Mrs. Newton opted to focus on starting a family.

In 1962, the family bought a home in El Cajon, which always had brown carpet so the dirt from the garden wouldn’t show. Mrs. Newton lived there the rest of her life.

Mrs. Newton is survived by her husband, Gil, daughters Laura and Holly and four grandchildren.

A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. April 25 at Summers Past Farms.

The family requests donations be made to the Red Cross for Haitian Earthquake Relief.

Please feel free to leave a comment below!